Construction worker on scaffolding.

The Challenges and Solutions of Scaffolding Design in Windy Conditions

Introduction to Scaffolding Design in Windy Conditions


Construction projects pose many challenges, and one of the most significant situations to consider is a sudden change in weather. High winds, icy conditions, rain, and snow can quickly challenge intended scaffold designs, equipment, and tools while increasing the risk of injury to workers and visitors to a job site. For this reason, enclosing a scaffold structure may become vital to preventing safety issues and minimizing damage.


How Do Windy Conditions Pose Challenges to Scaffolding Design?


During an extreme weather event, high winds can impact the structure of a scaffolding system, especially in certain circumstances where planks, equipment, and temporary structures are not adequately secured. Strong winds can easily collapse or blow all or portions of these items off a scaffold, which poses a severe safety risk for construction workers and passers-by.


What Factors Must be Considered in a Scaffolding Structure to Ensure Stability and Safety in Windy Conditions?


You’ll need to consider several factors before setting up a scaffolding structure to ensure proper stability. A solid, well-established scaffold must support structural engineering while remaining stable in the event of unpredictable weather and heavy winds.

You’ll want to plan a scaffolding strategy that takes the following into account before setup and work:

  • Get familiar with the general weather conditions of the region. This process can vary greatly, depending on if you’re building in New York City in the winter or summer or in a more remote area that may become vulnerable to high winds.
  • Scaffolding foundations must be supported adequately, based on the load capacity, while evenly distributing the weight of equipment and materials.
  • Suppose your construction site is at an extreme height. In that case, you must have a licensed professional, such as a professional engineer (P.E.), design the scaffold while training crews set up, modify, and dismantle the scaffolding project, to ensure health and safety regulations are followed.
  • Each worker must be trained in scaffold assembly, as well as trained in fall protection, with a clear understanding of height regulations and safety protocol. This is especially important when there are increased risks due to high winds.
  • Ensure all the safety measures are taken to reduce the likelihood of falling objects and tools by installing guardrails, toeboards, slip-resistant surfaces, and proper access to loading bays.

Consider consulting with a scaffolding designer or contractor to determine how to best set up a safe and secure structure to minimize potential risks and weather-related damage.

Sunbelt Rentals Scaffold Services offers scaffolding experts who can make scaffolding designs, so you can customize your site to accommodate safe working methods and planning in the event of severe weather and strong winds.


Factors Affecting Scaffolding Design in Windy Conditions


High winds can cause significant damage to any type of structure, from breaking windows and doors to collapsing roofs, decks, and walls. Construction work sites are particularly vulnerable to this damage, especially when exposed scaffolds are not shielded or protected during a storm.

Roof overhangs, planks, and partially completed structures are susceptible to trapping air from wind, creating a strong force that can tear or lift materials, breaking and damaging them.

What can you do to prepare your scaffolding structure is well-designed and protected from the elements?

  • Consider whether a tube, traditional scaffolding, or system scaffold is better for your application. System scaffolds are easier and quicker to assemble and dismantle due to their modular structure.
  • Analyse the wind speed and direction and how this will impact the stability of your site and prepare for extra protection.
  • Evaluate the height and weight of your scaffold or system to determine how well this will withstand high winds or changes in weather.
  • Consult with a design engineer student or civil engineer on various aspects of the construction project to plan to build around seasonal changes and other factors around the structure that may impact safety and productivity.
  • Does your work site require specific equipment and supportive devices to comply with security requirements? Diagonal braces, protective mesh, and containment materials can protect your scaffolding system.

When you plan with a scaffolding designer or project manager, it’s crucial to implement accurate calculations to ensure the structure is built on stable ground, with a solid foundation, to avoid any potential risks from weather changes. 

It’s also essential to assess the type of work being performed on the scaffolding, including the height, the equipment and tools, and design requirements, which must be supported and protected throughout the duration of the project.


Solutions for Scaffolding Design in Windy Conditions


As you prepare to erect a scaffolding system, you may need to modify the design to adapt to seasonal changes, especially during the colder winter months, which include high winds and plummeting temperatures. You’ll need to implement protection against rain, windchill, and snow, which can also bring severe cold and icy conditions, posing additional risks to safety.

The following solutions can provide safer access to scaffolds while protecting the structure during windy conditions:

  • Include modifications to design drawings and plan to create additional stable supports, bracing, and coverage for increased safety and protection.
  • Use wind calculation tools, factor in the impact of dead load (ongoing weight capacity) and determine which design type best suits your construction site or application.
  • Implement wind-resistant materials to reinforce your scaffold structure, such as steel and durable components that can withstand high winds, even if only for temporary work.
  • Create a safety plan for employees and contractors to ensure they can act when faced with a potential safety risk or dangerous situation due to weather.

If you decide to cease construction during a storm or extreme winds, scaffold sheeting is an excellent option for covering your worksite, with several benefits. Sheeting can also be used to protect workers and machinery on the job, and while a working platform isn’t in use, to keep the structure stable when work resumes.

Scaffold sheeting consists of ropes, bracing, and additional ties to support sheeting and protect your worksite from extreme winds and weather. This protective material is made of sturdy, durable materials that are not easily damaged and supported with scaffolding poles to keep them stationary.

Some scaffold sheeting materials are coated in a fire-resistant chemical, which can help prevent tools and materials from fire damage as well as being a risk of fire itself.

An alternative to sheeting, scaffold netting is often used on construction sites that build large industrial or residential buildings. This option is often more affordable and flexible and can be purchased or rented in bulk, which makes it ideal for large-scale projects.

Like sheeting, netting can also be fire-resistant and provides a shield of protection against flying debris, which is common in high winds.

When choosing between scaffold sheeting and netting options, among other protective measures, it’s best to consult with your Sunbelt Rentals Scaffold Services expert in accordance with the OSHA guidelines and health and safety requirements.




Building a safe and secure scaffolding system is essential in providing a stable, protective environment for your site. As scaffolding designs vary considerably, based on the nature of your application, or construction project, you’ll find consulting with a Sunbelt Rentals Scaffold Services expert can provide you with the support and direction you need to build a safe and productive scaffolding system.

Our scaffolding and construction consultants offer complete design and setup services, as well as, a wide range of scaffolding rental equipment to create the safest and most efficient environment for your construction project.

You’ll find our team of scaffold professionals can provide you with everything you need to make informed decisions on setting up the best scaffold system to create a safe and protected site.