Work Access Platforms in General Industry
Many of our clients have areas in their business where equipment is located in an elevated location and requires their employees to climb when performing routine maintenance and service. We see a lot of this type of work in the food manufacturing industry. In many cases the climb to gain access is extremely dangerous along with the area where the employee is required to stand while performing the work task. Slippery conditions, makeshift ladders or no ladders at all cause a worker to expose themselves to unnecessary fall hazards which could cause injury or even death.
In these locations for General Industry, Cal/OSHA requires that permanent work platforms be installed with fixed ladders or stairways, not personal fall arrest equipment.
- Cal/OSHA Title 8 Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders §3270. Access General. (a) Access to every permanent elevated work location shall be by means of either fixed ladders or permanent ramps or stairways. (b) Every permanent elevated work location, where there is machinery, equipment, or material which is customarily operated or frequently repaired, serviced, adjusted, or otherwise handled and every other permanent elevated work location shall be provided with a safe platform or maintenance runway.
Many times clients will attempt to install personal fall arrest equipment or just allow the employee to free climb. The problem with this approach is there is typically very low fall distances that will allow the fallen worker to strike the lower level or strike equipment on the way down. The costs of one minor injury such as a broken wrist or ankle will far exceed the cost of the work platform.
So why don’t employers install permanent work platforms? It seems to be the initial capital investment in the platform itself that causes them to make a short-sighted decision to ignore the problem or try to install fall protection equipment improperly. The result is typically the same. An employee will slip and fall, break a bone and spend a day or two in the hospital. That results in an OSHA recordable that brings them to your door step with violations and a serious look at the whole operation; this typically results in additional violations. Workers Compensation costs are always elevated to cover the expense of the fallen worker and civil lawsuits are almost a guarantee. In the end, the initial investment in the work platform will be small in comparison, considering the work platform will need to be installed before Cal/OSHA will remove the red tag from the area and allow employees to go back to work.
Versatile Systems custom engineers, fabricates and installs work access platforms in extremely challenging environments. We have custom fabricated many platforms for the food manufacturing industry, sanitation industry and many others. Protecting employees the right way today means protecting the company’s future for tomorrow.