Should you use an Impact Wrench for Scaffolding?

Impact Wrench

Many scaffolders across the country are ditching the traditional scaffold spanner in favour for a never tiring Impact Wrench (battery depending) for the erection and dismantle of scaffolding.

Could this be the future for our industry? Will we all end up having one of these hanging from our belts? But seriously.. should we be using Impact Wrenches ?

The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) has been busy behind the scenes performing vigorous tests tightening couplers with two popular types of impact wrenches and a wide range of drop forged couplers. The couplers were from different suppliers in various conditions, new, used, lubricated and unlubricated. Over 60 tests were completed.

No Concerns

Industry experts at the NASC analyzed the data and found no concerns or adverse effects to the couplers from the tests carried out with both impact wrenches and the traditional scaffold spanner. Subsequently the NASC has deemed the use of impact wrenches for scaffolding purposes acceptable.

However the confederation has released a statement highlighting several important recommendations to be considered by the employer before the use of impact wrenches by operatives:

  1.  The recommended force required to tighten a fitting is 50 N/mtr as stated in EN 74. Most wrenches have stated torque settings (N/mtr) in excess of this recommended figure. However during testing it was noted that settings published by the manufacturer can differ greatly from what is actually achieved. It is therefore recommended that any employer considering authorising the use of impact wrenches carries out testing to establish that the impact wrench which they intend to authorise for use by their employees is capable of applying the correct torque to scaffold fittings on a consistent and recurring basis. Further to completion of an adequate risk assessment by the employer the impact wrench may then be deemed fit for purpose for erection/dismantling and alterations to scaffolding by their employees.
  2. It is recommended that prior to use of an impact wrench on site the employee should first undergo a suitable period of training, familiarisation and monitoring, to ensure that the impact wrench is being used in the correct manner at all times.
  3. The NASC recognises that impact wrenches can offer certain benefits. However members and users of such equipment should be aware that there is potential for concern regarding use and operation. Employers should adequately assess the risk for their own particular situation and ensure that they put in place protocols to cover safe use. It is recommended that any assessment should also address noise and hand/arm vibration.
  4. In addition to the initial training and familiarisation phases, it is recommended that employers should carry out regular toolbox talks refreshing operatives with company policy and rules for the safe use of impact wrenches.
  5. In the event that a nut is stripped off the ‘T’ bolt it is recommended that the fitting should be returned to the employer’s yard where a new replacement ensemble (‘T’ bolt, nut & washer) can be fitted by the company’s maintenance team.
  6. Impact wrenches are normally supplied with rechargeable lithium batteries that provide a more stable power pack. However the confederation recommends that all users follow manufacturer’s instructions and that battery life should be monitored.
  7. This statement only applies to drop forged scaffold fittings. The NASC does not recommend the use of impact wrenches with ‘pressed’ type scaffold fittings.

The NASC has also developed a basic Form which users of impact wrenches may find useful.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. They should be banned. Who will be checking they’re set at the correct torque if they’ve been calibrated? Then there’s the unseen damage to nuts bolts and gates of the fittings.
    There only any good to greedy companies wanting to bust the lads backs on the price. There’s only 1 winner and that’s the company and that’s why they’ll not be checked to the regulations proposed.

  2. Impact wrenches may have their uses and maybe favoured by many scaffold operatives. Before scaffolding organisations freely allow them to be generally used there are many considerations to be taken into account. Why? Because if anything goes wrong the company the operator is working for is ultimately liable and also the said company would not want anyone to suffer ill heath or injury by doing so.

    The considerations to formulate a Policy on their safe use would be based around:

    1. Training
    2. Testing
    3. Noise
    4. Hand/Arm vibration
    5. Tool Lanyards
    6. PPE
    7. Familiarisation
    8. Torque
    9. Maintenance
    10. Safe Storage

    There use would be required to be included in a safe plan of work….RAMS.
    Proerly risk assessed with control measures in place.

    Noise is the only prohibitive item I have listed above, it would be interesting to learn of the Peak Noise levels emitted from the different wrenches used in scaffolding and in different situations, ie. Unboarded scaffold, Fully boarded, on beamwork, inside work etc.

    Industrial deafness is irreversible !! Food for thought 🙂

  3. Only old school scaffs! or stoners who would rather buy puff then tools would stick to the spanner. Saves time and makes life easy… You wouldn’t build stuff with just a screw driver would you??? Power tools always!! Get with the times try before you knock it

  4. Big fan of the tool itself, especially on a building site, but as my experience on the tube and clip I would also have to agree with your call. Why change something now when it’s worked so well for generations.

  5. We can all guess what will happen next, as NASC love to make money off the backs of scaffolders, it will be a case of them deciding that only NASC approved testing will be acceptable and that this must be done ether every 6 months or yearly

  6. So the “old boys” you mention developed bad hips through carrying a spanner belt and bubble? Nothing to do with the amount of tube, boards and fittings they had on their shoulders at the same time then?

  7. Have been a scaffolder and self employed for over thirty years now and i think impact wrenches are the way forward eh lads time is money
    If u can’t earn £400 extra with the hilti over a few months u in the wrong game
    Av just gone fifty wish I’d av as one of these thirty yrs ago could av made great money
    You’re choice boys move with the times or get left behind
    Every trade on site now use power tools of some sort wise up
    JCB or shovel?

  8. Been in the game 34 years. I’ve seen the same arguments when the doubles came out instead of bands. Same as steel toe boots, hard hats, harnesses all add to the weight we carry daily. On my first belt was a podger flat spanner 7/16, 1/2 inch, bubble and you think a gun is heaven.

  9. Scaffolding isn’t rocket science Luv. Worked on plenty of Cat 4, petro chem, power station shutdowns blah blah…..The impact wrench, in the hands of a capable scaffolder is a more efficient way to do the job. I now use the box spanner in the same way as a flat – when my drill can’t fit.

  10. I’ve got one n I don’t take the bolts off I work on big sites and streets on weekends n I think there great when ur stripping n running long stretches in buf it I’m doing anything awkward I won’t use it. I think a lot of people r scared of change but times r changing new equipment like scaff steps n all that n we have to adapt n I say if there trying to make our job harder then why can’t we make it easier? Old school workers who say I was taught this n that’s all I will do even if there’s a better method r just gonna make life hard for them selves

  11. I’d rather bad hips to be honest lads..I need my wrists for when the misses don’t put out on a daily basis lololololol ??????????????….????????????
    Each to thier own with the drills I like mine.but I still use the spanner a fair bit.depends what jobs ur on I suppose

  12. If you buy the correct socket for it which is short same size has the box of a spanner n put a lanyard on what’s wrong with it boys if they have said its ok to use now?? I use a drill but not all day I still go back to do the spanner during the day. I’ve just ordered a new Milwaukee

  13. Remember when they released levels with magnets in, and people whined that you weren’t a proper scaffolder if you used one? Funny how everyone uses a bubble with a magnet or 2 in now….. same will apply here I think!

  14. The one thing on this thread that doesn’t seemed to be talked about, as the drill is so much faster,as i’v seen,how longer is it going to be before the bosses want more out of all of us, they will be telling the old boys get a drill,then they will be changing the prices,always Scaffs arguing about who’s quickest,strongest,who earns what money, this is why the bosses take the piss,none of us stick together….drill or spanner,jobs still gets up,the only people who win are the guvnors!!

  15. I use an impact and its still a ball ache u cant handle the tubes whilst holding the drill like u can the spanner , extra weight u carry about , and climbing through a trap door is a nightmare . But drill makes the job so much easier

  16. I work with proper scaffolders, lets face it the only lads who use these drills work for two bit firms getting ripped off on price, more fool them, trying coming on a petrochemical plant, putting droppers up every day in tight spots, see how well your toys work then

  17. Until u go to a job where some bellend who doesnt know what there doing use an impact driver and half the doubles on site havent got a nut on because they have wound them down to far with their bob the builder drill, proper scaffs do it the proper way U0001f44d

  18. I heard Scaffolders don’t use power tools, they shout at it to tighten it up “Tell u wot geez if u dont fackin get a grip i’ll chuck u back in the bucket u came from u cant!!!”

  19. Heard stories of old boys having hip problems for carrying nothing but a belt,spanner and bubble…….so how are these gonna be in 40 year carrying a spanner,bubble, tape and a big stupid battery operated impact wrench???

  20. From experience I think that they are too heavy but if it could be lighter I would defiantly have one full time as jobs go up a lot quicker and feels like your not working nearly as hard great for handrails and long runs not so good fronts and backs

  21. Spanner all the way. Especially industrial scaffolding where there is other hazards plus very little space on some jobs. Plus why would you carry a heavy impact gun when you have a tool belt and harness?

  22. Anyone who dismisses these obviously hasn’t used 1 and there shouldn’t be any concerns with regard to the fittings, you’d easily do a fitting up tighter by hand! The amount of work you can get done with these renders a spanner near useless!

  23. Hilti are unreliable shite and cumbersome. Had 3 chargers in a year. And had to wait 3 weeks for a repair.. never again. You could buy 3 dewalt for the price and loss of price thru repair