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What Is Pump Jack Scaffolding?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pump jack scaffolding is a compact, adjustable construction scaffolding featuring brackets, a walking platform, and foot pedals. As the name implies, the most characteristic feature of pump jack scaffolding is the ability to use foot pedals to pump a walking platform up or down vertical support posts, as height adjustments are needed. Such scaffolds are commonly used by painters, siding installers, and other construction professionals in areas where traditional fixed-frame scaffolding is not practical due to uneven ground, limited time, or lack of space.

In terms of types of scaffolding, pump jack scaffolding is highly portable, easy to assemble, inexpensive, and versatile, making such tools a favorite of small construction crews lacking the manpower to assemble larger scaffolds. Rather than a traditional fixed-frame metal scaffold or a custom built wooden scaffold, pump jack scaffolding features just five pieces that fit easy into the bed of a pickup truck. A full ensemble of pump jack scaffolding includes a pair of upper brackets with long extendable arms, a pair of brackets with foot pedals and walking board braces, and a narrow metal walking board or platform.

Some units include an extra set of brackets to hold a second board for use as a work bench, with all brackets having the same size opening to accommodate posts. Typically, users must buy wooden posts separately in lengths equal to the height needed. Any pressure-treated wooden post may be used, provided its dimensions fit into the bracket openings. Since single posts are used at either end of the scaffold, the only height requirements for posts are those limits imposed by building codes and safety guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends posts no longer than 30 feet (10 meters) and the use of 4x4 pressure treated lumber for posts.

To install pump jack scaffolding, two wooden posts are situated vertically and plumb to a structure. Posts may be sunk into the ground at the base or allowed to rest above ground, depending on the specific terrain. Extendable metal arms are attached to each pair of upper and lower brackets, helping to secure the scaffold to the structure via bolts or screws. Arms extend to the left and right of each bracket to provide the most stability possible and to prevent the scaffold from failing. Lower brackets have smaller support arms to accommodate walking platform braces and foot pedals.

Safety is the biggest concern regarding pump jack scaffolding. Without the complex framing of traditional scaffolding, workers have little protection from falls. As such, organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommend the use of guardrails or personal fall prevention gear, as well as limiting total weight to no more than 500 lbs (227 kilos.)

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