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OSHA-Compliant Air Handling Unit Access Stairs

Categories:  Industrial Stairs  Energy  Equipment Access  Low-Height Platforms  Maintenance Platforms  Rooftops  

AHU air handling unit access stair Installation
By Tom Reeves
Nov 20, 2021
Estimated 5 minute read

If you need access platforms for your rooftop HVAC equipment, Erectastep is the company to call. We specialize in providing safe and OSHA-compliant access solutions for a variety of applications.

The air handling unit, often known as the AHU, is the most important component of a central air conditioning system. It gathers indoor and outdoor air, filters out dust and other debris, modifies the humidity and temperature, and then uses ducts to distribute a cool, favorable cooling mechanism into the rooms of your facility. The abbreviation for "heating, ventilating, and air conditioning" is HVAC; their difference relies on the fact that the core component of an HVAC is the AHU, and AHU is only a part of an HVAC system.

Large AHUs for outdoor use are known as 'packaged units' or 'rooftop units' (RTUs). These AHUs are often elevated to protect from water damage, and the control panel is accessed using a combination of metal stairs and work platforms. Elevated work platforms provide a safe and easy way to access the control panel, making it easier to service the unit. In addition, these modular metal stairs can help to prevent slip and fall accidents. Most stair platforms are made from durable materials such as aluminum, providing a long-lasting solution for accessing rooftop units.

A university in West Virginia became one of our customers when they needed OSHA-compliant access stairs to their rooftop HVAC system.

Rooftop safety is critical for any employer, with workers involved in most building HVAC systems. Various potential hazards are associated with roof work, including falls, electrocution, and exposure to hazardous materials. As a result, employers must adopt and implement effective safety measures to protect their workers despite unique rooftop configurations. Some basic steps employers can take to promote roof safety include providing workers with proper training and equipment, conducting regular safety inspections, and maintaining a safe work environment.

Commercial buildings often have large HVAC units, pipes, and ductwork on their rooftops. These systems regularly need servicing and maintenance, posing a safety hazard for workers. Ensuring worker safety requires a ladder or temporary platform access. Ladder access can be either direct (via a fixed or portable ladder) or indirect (via an aerial device such as a scaffold or cherry picker). Temporary platforms can be either freestanding (such as a mobile elevated work platform) or erected atop an existing structure (such as a stairwell). Direct ladder access is typically the preferred method, as it is less intrusive and less likely to damage the equipment. However, indirect methods may be necessary in some cases. Workers should always follow proper safety procedures like the OSHA-approved railing height when accessing rooftop HVAC units, including fall protection if required.

While temporary solutions may seem quick and easy fixes, they often come with work hazards. Wood ladders on windy or rainy days can cause workers to slip or trip. Temporary platforms installed and taken down multiple times can have missing or loose parts or be installed incorrectly, which is an added risk. These hazards can be compounded by the fact that workers may be rushed to complete the job quickly, leading them to take shortcuts that further increase the risk of injury. As a result, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers before starting any work using temporary solutions. Managers can prevent work injuries by taking the time to assess the risks and implementing appropriate safety measures.

Rooftop units are an important part of many commercial buildings, providing heating, cooling, and ventilation. However, these units can be difficult and dangerous to service due to their height and the risk of falling. A work platform can reduce these risks by providing a safe and stable surface for maintenance personnel to work on. These platforms are designed to be installed on elevated rooftop units and can be customized to fit the specific needs of your building. In addition to improving safety, work platforms can also minimize damage to your roof by preventing workers from walking on or around the unit. As a result, a work platform can be a valuable investment for any business with rooftop HVAC units.

By taking these simple steps, employers can help prevent accidents and ensure their workers are safe. OSHA requires anywhere the change in height is 4' or more, fall protection measures should be considered [OSHA 1910.28(b)(1)(i)(A to C)]. Also, workers must have fall protection in place if they will be working or traversing within 15 feet of a potential fall hazard [OSHA 1910.28(b)(13)(i to iii)(A & B)].

If you need access platforms for rooftop HVAC equipment, Erectastep is the right choice. We have experts to help you ensure that everything you install is OSHA-compliant. With our experience and knowledge, we can help you choose the right access platform for your needs. We have a variety of access platforms to choose from, so you can find the perfect one for your equipment. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services.

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Park Rahaley

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