Platforms and walkways allow personnel to work on and access the upper levels of industrial machinery, process equipment, tanks, and buildings. They include pre-fabricated structures such as work platforms and catwalks with grates, railings, stairways, treads, diamond or texture plates, and anti-slip materials. Most platforms and walkways consist of aluminum, steel, or fiberglass grating panels to permit the passage of air, light, and fluids. Handrails, treads, plates, and other non-slip or anti-slip features are also made of various materials. Aluminum catwalks and steel walkways are used mainly in factories, plants, and processing facilities. Fiberglass catwalks are used outdoors by maintenance personnel. These non-conductive structures resist corrosion and ultraviolet light (UV). Metal platforms and walkways are heavier, but can handle greater loads.
Specifications and Features
Platforms and walkways vary in terms of component specifications and features. Plates come in standard width and lengths, but can be cut to size. Products with diamond-shaped openings have serrated teeth in order to provide a slip-resistant surface that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Diamond treads are self-cleaning and self-draining. They have a long life-capacity, and openings that can catch items such as tools. Textured plates and surface-roughened treads have larger, diamond-shaped openings. They are made from thicker materials for high loading applications. Slotted-plate treads are slip-resistant in all directions and permit the passage of air, water, and light. Platforms and walkways with round, de-bossed holes allow fluids, mud, chips and other debris to drain away. Work platforms and catwalks with smaller holes are well-suited for plants, factories and processing facilities in which oil and grease pose a risk of accidents.
Booms, gangways, scaffolding, and aerial booms are platforms and walkways that can be moved, swung-up to, or constructed on a building, vessel, ship, bridge, or other structure for maintenance, cleaning, construction and/or the movement of materials, cargo and people. Most scaffolding, booms, and aerial work platforms are used on a temporary basis during repair and construction operations. Gangways often consist of a walkway with one end fixed to a dock. The other end is swung, raised, or lowered on the ship, aircraft, or vehicle. Aerial platforms and booms consist of a work platform mounted on an extendable arm that can raise and move the platform into position.
Platforms and walkways conform to slip-resistance standards from organizations such as the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). For example, ANSI A1264.2-2001 describes methods for testing walkway surfaces and enhancing the safety of walkway materials. In the United States, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor have established minimum safety guidelines under both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Act and the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act. Platforms and walkways that adhere to these standards are commonly available.