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Facility Management: Aerial Work Platforms or Scaffolding

03. 25, 2024

The facility management industry also employs aerial work platforms for various tasks. These platforms are utilized for building maintenance and repairs, as well as short-term construction projects. Aerial work platforms encompass a range of equipment, including boom lifts (both powered and vehicle-mounted), cherry or stock pickers, aerial lifts, and bucket trucks. An aerial work platform is defined as a powered or manually propelled device supported by a structure from ground level.


OSHA and ANSI regulations for aerial work platforms vary depending on whether the work platform extends beyond the base. For instance, the work platform on an aerial lift extends beyond the base, while the work platform on a scissor lift extends vertically directly above the base. If the work platform extends beyond the base, active fall protection is mandated, including a full-body harness and a shock-absorbing lanyard. Conversely, if the work platform extends vertically directly over the base, passive fall protection such as guardrails is required.


Determining whether aerial work platforms or scaffolding is preferable can be challenging. While both serve as alternatives to ladders, they fulfill different purposes, making it difficult to specify circumstances for choosing one over the other. However, certain general situations can guide the decision-making process.


Aerial Work Platform

Scaffolding is preferred over aerial work platforms when:


- A large work area is necessary to complete the project.

- The project requires an extended duration for completion.

- An aerial work platform cannot be safely positioned close enough to the project site due to factors such as uneven surfaces or obstructions.


On the other hand, an aerial work platform is favored over scaffolding when:


- A small work area is adequate for completing the project.

- The project can be finished within a short timeframe.


Important Considerations When Working with Scaffolding:


1. Evaluate potential fall hazards before erecting the scaffolding.

2. Position the scaffold base on a stable surface.

3. As per OSHA regulations, assembly must be conducted under the direct supervision of a competent person.

4. Ensure all sides of the scaffold are protected with passive fall protection like guardrails.

5. Cross bracing should not be used as a standalone guardrail system. However, it may serve as the toprail or midrail depending on its distance.

6. Install screens if individuals need to pass beneath the scaffolding.

7. Provide safe access to both the scaffold and its platforms if they are more than two feet apart vertically or 14 inches horizontally.


Important Considerations When Working with Aerial Work Platforms:


1. Assess potential fall hazards before utilizing an aerial work platform.

2. Keep your upper body within the confines of the work platform.

3. Do not utilize guardrails, ladders, or other devices to extend your work position off the platform.

4. Only use approved anchor points for tie-off. Some aerial work platform manufacturers supply approved anchor points. Verify if your platform's manufacturer provides such points capable of withstanding fall forces.

5. Evaluate the possibility of swing falls before connecting to an anchor point.

6. Use the shortest lanyard feasible while ensuring project completion.

7. Adhere to the manufacturer's rated capacity for horizontal forces, avoiding exceeding it.




In conclusion, both aerial work platforms and scaffolding systems offer unique advantages for facility management projects requiring work at height. Facility managers must carefully evaluate the specific requirements of each project to determine the most suitable option. Whether opting for the versatility of aerial work platforms or the stability of scaffolding systems, prioritizing safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness is essential to successful project execution.


For inquiries about aerial work platforms or scaffolding systems, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Aerial Work Platform