Work Platforms: Fabricated or Modular?

Work Safety Platforms: Fabricated or Modular?

You’ve done an analysis of the hazards in your work area - whether it be a construction site, a warehouse, or a manufacturing floor, and you’ve determined that the best solution for one or more of your hazards is a work platform.  It may seem like your decision-making ends there, but it doesn’t.  In reality, you need to determine which type of work platform is the best for you.

Your choice will boil down to this: Fabricated, Modular or Hybrid?

Each has its Pros and Cons, so let’s look at the options:

Fabricated Engineerered Platforms

If you’re looking for total design control and something very specific to your needs, you may need to fabricate.  This will allow you to design the platform to your own specs so that every rail and every stair are exactly where you want.  Each engineered work platform is at the height and length of your choosing.  This is a great option, if you have the time and money for it, so keep in mind that you are building lead-time into the implementation of your solution and digging a bit further into your pockets.

Completely fabricated solutions also require detailed measurements to ensure that everything is just right.  Mismeasuring can mean a loss of both time and money.

Pros: Cons:
Fully customized to your needs Most expensive
Longest time to design
No field adjustments

Modular Platforms

The fastest and cheapest solution would be a completely modular platform.  You find the platform you want, buy it, install it, and you’re done.  The implication here is that you will need to find one that exactly suits your needs - every dimension meets your specs.  This type of platform would probably come into play in situations that are very simple – such as having a platform that allows a worker to climb up a few steps and work at a machine along an assembly line or to an electrical switchgear that is raised off the walking surface.  If there are no further obstacles besides a little elevation, this solution might work.

Pros: Cons:
No design time No customization
Least expensive No field adjustments

Custom Safety Platforms

Custom safety work platforms provide a “best of both worlds” approach to safety platforms.  These work platforms have modular components that can be adjusted but are built to your specifications. This type of solution allows the design and lead times to be reduced. You could choose between stairs with 2, 3, 4 or 5 risers.  Work platform sections may come in set lengths that you can attach to one another to meet your overall dimensions.

Another advantage to the hybrid platform, with fabricated and completely modular variations, is the ability for onsite finite adjustment during and/or after install.  If the floor or roof is uneven, for instance, a field adjustment can be made.

Pros: Cons:
Fast Not as fast as modular
Less expensive than fabricated Not as inexpensive as modular
Some customization Not as customizable as fabricated
Field adjustments possible


The one trap to be careful of falling into here, though, is the “well, that’s close enough” trap.  Sometimes, close is not enough.  You need to assess your situation and ensure that your approximate solution actually abates your hazard and does not cause a new one.  If a work platform doesn’t do what you need it to do, then you wasted time and money and you may have created a situation where you’ve given your employees a false sense of security. 

Work platforms can solve a wide range of access issues, but, like any other safety solution, you must plan ahead, determine your needs, and develop the proper solution.  Installing a work platform may allow you to eliminate a hazard and a headache to you and your employees. 

If you need more information, please check out our Beginner's Guide: Work Platforms post.

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