Work Platforms – Your Complete Guide

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There are a whole range of different work platforms available on the market today, including Mobile Elevated Work Platforms, scaffolding, or prefabricated platforms that are intended to be installed on a permanent basis. The style of the platform you require will come down to the nature of the work that needs to be completed. For a small job that is likely to be finished a short amount of time, a mobile access platform will be suitable, while an elevated work area that requires constant attention is better suited to a fixed solution, with limited (if any) portability. Regardless of the platform style, each represents a safe option to your workplace needs.

The following article details the various features of work platforms and their importance for helping to ensure a safe working environment.

Structural Requirements

  • Railings are required to be installed at 4 ft (1.2 m), which is the level at which fall prevention is compulsory, in an industrial setting
  • Railings are required to be 42 inches high (106 cm) and must include a centre-rail and 4 inch (10 cm) toe board (a basic safety element)
  • If several steps or more are needed to reach the platform, then the steps much have railings as well

There are additional requirements that must be met in order to ensure compliance, but these three are the most fundamental ones.

A work platform for every task

Work platforms are custom built to complete a specific work task, safely and efficiently. For example, a work platform may be erected to ensure that personnel can operate a piece of equipment at a safe height, avoiding the need for them to extend their arms above their head and potentially increase the risk of injury. There may be times where you need a platform to safely access higher levels so that you can conduct repairs or perform general housekeeping chores.

Whilst your work platform may be at an optimal height for using the equipment, accessing greater heights may involve ascending railings or partaking in other dangerous operations, that may jeopardise your well-being. When buying a work platform, always be sure that it is suitable for every height that you need to be working at.

The dangers posed by floor surfaces

If you perform your work duties using a permanent, non-portable work platform setup, then you only need to be careful that your floor surface doesn’t contain any unwanted clutter or spilt fluids and is not defective in any way. However, if you’re using a mobile access platform, you also need to be mindful of the floor surface on which your platform rests.

Some mobile platforms can be configured to maintain a flat, stable surface, even while placed on irregular terrain. Other platforms may be fitted with extra large castor wheels that enable them to safely traverse over mesh floors or other surface indentations. Without these necessary features in place, irregular surfaces or grated floors can create perilous work conditions for those on the platform. When purchasing a mobile work platform, be sure that it is going to be able to handle the unique conditions of your work environment.

Flexibility

One of the greatest qualities of work platforms is their flexibility. During the design phase, consider the possible ways in which the platform can be built to better accommodate future hurdles. Are the jobs going to be completed in the same particular way or in the exact same location? Will repairs need to be conducted that will demand extra access? Will the platform be capable of supporting additional weight in the future, if required?

Developing a flexible access platform solution that is able to adapt to your future working conditions, will save you money in the long run. It is now possible to build work platforms that utilise modular components. For example, you could have two mobile access platforms that have been fitted with detachable railings. Once the railings are detached from one side on each platform, they can be combined into a single, larger platform, doubling the platform work area and its weight capacity.

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