Birdcage or crash deck scaffolds are often used indoors to undertake repairs and redecorating work at ceiling height. They are also almost always constructed on the inside of new build properties so that tasks such as installing floor joists, plaster boarding and painting ceilings can be undertaken safely and securely.
Of course, because they are internal deck scaffolds, birdcages and crash decks are usually a lighter duty structure. This means that they can be built and dismantled quickly, although there should still be full consideration of health and safety regulations. Trade contractors like painters and joiners must be assured of a safe working environment just as much as builders on open construction sites.
However, this type of scaffold deck must be built by qualified scaffolders. Birdcage scaffolds need a large number of platform boards because the working area is generally much larger – just think of the framework required to paint the whole ceiling of a hotel reception area. An accurate assessment of weight bearing capacities must be made as the scaffolding used must be sufficient to take the load. The lighter the load, the simpler the birdcage or crash deck can be.
What does a scaffold deck look like?
A birdcage is a construction of standards, often evenly spaced apart, and is designed to provide lift heights and a full working deck platform at the top of the structure. It’s a must that the fall protection decking is tied or braced to make sure that the top boards are stable and it must be tested before it is used to make sure that the birdcage doesn’t sway or list to the side.
For a crash deck to be safe, special attention must be paid to the top work platform. This should be built to ensure that there are no gaps and it’s advisable that appropriate protective measures, such as toe guards or rails, are included. A bird cage must offer an enclosed working area for contractors, avoiding the risk of falling through any gaps, in order to meet industry standards.
The standard features of crash deck scaffolds are:
They are built in a grid formation to provide as stable a working area as possible.
Ledgers and transoms must be fixed by right angle couplers at each lift on the scaffold.
The first lift should be no higher than 2.5 metres and any others must be no more than 2 metres in height.
Braces must be used for every six standards in each line, horizontally or vertically.
Sole plates are necessary to help distribute the weight evenly – a must when people are walking about on the work platform.
Ladder access must be appropriate for the size of the birdcages structure.
Access birdcages fall outside the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation definition of a basic scaffold. This means that a full scaffold design service is also a must, including risk assessments and statements of working practice. In order to provide this kind of scaffold, we have trained a number of our scaffolders to provide this kind of documentation and to devise a birdcage that is safe and fit for purpose.
Some small construction companies or trade contractors are so focused on the external working at height issues that they forget that accidents can easily happen inside the property as well. When sourcing a fall safety company, you should find that one that has as much expertise on indoor scaffolds and staircases as it does on outdoor access scaffolds.
Alternative uses for crashdeck scaffolding
The ‘crash deck’ name arose because birdcages can also be used inside a new build property while workers are constructing the roof. If someone slips off the roof, they must be protected by the platform below rather fall than all the way to the ground.
Bird cage scaffolds have also been used on the following projects:
Construction of swimming pools
Internal factory renovations
Maintenance work in power plants
Lift shaft repairs and maintenance
Theatre and cinema refurbishments.
The main advantage of deploying a fall safety structure is that it’s a simple structure to build. That means that it can be built and disassembled quickly and easily, with minimum fuss and mess. In addition, its layout means that workers have a large space on which to walk.
If the dimensions are calculated correctly, all of the repair or redecorating work can be done at once and there will be no need to move the crash platform to a different corner or wall. This can reduce time on the internal phase of the project and, if it doubles as a crash deck for earlier external work, the cost efficiencies are even greater.
There are a number of manufacturers of birdcage scaffold systems and equipment but we only use a number of suppliers who have proven their reliability. Although birdcages are lighter duty structures, we’re still concerned with issues of robustness and security so we only source high quality materials.
However, we are also able to supply heavier duty crash platforms that can withstand a load of up to 2kn per square metre. Indeed, this can be extended to 5kn per square metre if a support scaffold is incorporated – useful if work needs to be done on internal support walls or pillars. We believe that crashdecks & birdcage scaffolds offer virtually endless solutions to access internal spaces, regardless of how small or large the building is. They work in bungalows as much as they do in country estates and factories.
The cost of supplying a birdcage or crash deck basically depends upon the size of your property. Building a large birdcage can be a labour intensive process because of all of the bracing and platform boards involved. Our company guarantees, though, to keep its rates as competitive as possible. Our scaffolding teams have the experience to suggest ways where the scaffolding can increase access on site, thereby reducing labour time on internal decorating and refurbishment. Anyone who requests a quote is under no obligation to use our services – but we hope that you will be pleased with our professionalism and affordability.