Long crossover walkway and stairs

How a Catwalk Can Improve Workflow in Your Facility

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In a factory setting, the equipment can be difficult to access, leading to dangerous and/or uncomfortable working conditions. Catwalks can be a necessary solution to this problem and OSHA compliance.

What is a catwalk

A catwalk, sometimes called a runway, is an elevated platform or walkway used for observation or to give workers access to hard-to-reach areas within a facility to service equipment, tanks, hoppers, silos, sortation systems, and industrial processing equipment.

Upside Innovations is a stair manufacturer, and this article covers some applications and summarizes OSHA compliance requirements.


Common Catwalk Applications

  • HVAC & generator maintenance platforms
  • Accessing and clearing conveyor belts and sortation systems
  • An observation platform overseeing work areas
  • Rooftops – Air handlers, HVAC equipment, and generators
  • To crossover assembly lines and conveyor belts
  • Tank farm access

Upside Innovation’s Catwalks

Upside manufacturers prefabricated, easy-to-assemble OSHA complaint catwalk platforms.

Upside’s catwalk platform doesn’t just elevate people–it saves money and time. The industrial-grade aluminum components can be bolted together in an endless amount of configurations, making it ready to install upon arrival. With our APEX catwalk system, you’ll reduce costs while also saving time that would otherwise be spent welding the walkway together. If pre-assembled catwalks are not possible for your application, don’t worry! Our team of engineers and designers can customize a solution for any need.

At Upside, we believe that every business is unique and thus requires a different catwalk solution. That’s why we take the time to listen to your specific needs and requirements before craftily designing a plan specifically for you. Our team of experts creates structural drawings of where your catwalk has to be installed, making sure to include all details regarding positioning, elevation, etc., in alignment with your stated business goals. This level of planning and customization helps ensure that you get exactly the right catwalk for YOUR business.

Furthermore, we evaluate how much weight your catwalk can hold. The construction of your catwalk is entirely dependent on its planned use. Therefore, we need to know the load-bearing capacity requirements to design and build a safe walkway for your employees.

Our aluminum catwalks are easy to install in difficult-to-reach spaces and follow OSHA standards so that your workers can safely access elevated areas.

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Steps and APEX Trailer Catwalk at Industrial Facility
These Steps and long APEX Trailer Catwalk Platform were installed at an Industrial Facility.

OSHA catwalk requirements

OSHA compliance stairs platforms

OSHA establishes rules and regulations to follow for equipment operators and maintenance personnel who work on catwalks, which include the minimum width dimensions, minimum load requirements, fall protection requirements, and catwalk opening requirements. Understanding these standards can help create a safe working environment.

The safety requirements for catwalks, or elevated walkways, are located in Section 1910 Subpart D of the OSHA standards. A catwalk is an elevated surface used as a pathway between buildings or along shafting. It’s also considered a type of work platform. employers need to make sure that catwalks are constantly kept safe and up to code.

OSHA Section 1910.22 dictates the primary conditions for walking-working surfaces, encompassing catwalks. To be compliant, employers must guarantee that all walking surfaces are safe from slip and fall hazards, as well as being structurally stable and sound. With that in mind, here are some key standards for workplaces with elevated working conditions:

  • Walking/working surfaces are kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition. (1910.22(a)(1))
  • Free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice. (1910.22(a)(3))
  • Walking-working surface can support the maximum intended load for that surface. (1910.22(b))
  • Employees must have safe means of access and egress to and from walking-working surfaces. (1910.22(c))
  • Walking-working surfaces are inspected regularly to ensure safe conditions (1910.22(d)(1))

Catwalk width requirements

A catwalk or runway must be at least 18 inches wide (Section 1910.28(b)(5)(ii)(A)). When a stairway accesses the catwalk, catwalk width depends on the width of the stairway and stairway landing that serves it. Under OSHA Section 1910.25(b)(4) a stairway landing must be at least the width of the stairway, which has a minimum width of 22″, so catwalks served by a stairway must have a minimum width of 22″ for OSHA compliance.

How wide does a catwalk need to be?

A catwalk or runway must be at least 18 inches wide (OSHA Section 1910.28(b)(5)(ii)(A))

Similarly, IBC-compliant stairs have a minimum width of 36″; therefore, catwalks should be minimum of 36″ wide. Some bigger catwalks might actually be classified as mezzanine structures and would, as a result, need to adhere to the IBC mezzanine egress requirements.

Catwalk load requirements

The maximum intended load is the total weight and force of all employees, equipment, vehicles, tools, materials, and other loads that an employer reasonably anticipates will be applied to a walking-working surface at any one time (section 1910.22(b) Loads)

For guardrail systems around a catwalk requires that handrails and the top rails are capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 200 pounds (890 N) applied in any downward or outward direction within 2 inches (5 cm) of any point along the top edge of the rail. (section 1910.29(f)(7) Strength criteria)

Catwalk opening requirements

Catwalks may have floor holes within the walking surface or vertical openings near the edge of the walking surface. A fall protection system must protect these holes and openings to prevent employees from falling. (section 1910.28)

Hole – Opening or gap in the walking surface.

Examples include drains, large cracks, broken floorboards, chutes, and pits that are at least 2 inches.

OSHA section 1910.28(b)(7) states that where the inside bottom edge of the opening is less than 39 inches above the walking-working surface and the outside bottom edge of the opening is 4 feet or more above a lower level is protected from falling by the use of a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraining system, or personal fall arrest system. 

Opening – Opening or gap in a wall, partition, or railing.

Examples include openings to access equipment, chute openings, and window openings that are at least 30 inches high and at least 18 inches wide.

OSHA requires that employers provide a means of fall protection around floor holes in a catwalk or other walking surfaces.

Takeaway

Install an industrial catwalk to make your work areas more efficient by providing employees with easy access to equipment and maintenance areas. Catwalks come in many designs, so it is important to consider all variables before purchasing.

Upside Innovation’s APEX catwalk solutions are prefabricated, meaning they are ready to install immediately. The industrial-grade aluminum components bolt together, amounting to never-ending configurations. Contact our qualified stair and platform experts to reduce costs and eliminate time-consuming welding with our APEX catwalk systems. How a Catwalk Can Improve Workflow in Your Factory