05 Sep Forklift Working Platform vs. Mezzanine? Which One is Right for Your Warehouse?
If you’re looking to expand your warehouse space, you might want to think up, not out. Increasing your vertical storage space allows you to capitalize on the square footage you already have without the financial burden of moving or building an extension.
But how do you maximize your vertical storage space safely and securely? Two common options are the forklift working platform and the mezzanine. Both terms refer to warehouse structures that create an intermediate floor to create more storage or working space. However, there are distinct differences between them in terms of their permanency, design, and safety requirements.
How do you know which one is right for your warehouse? Read on to learn about these two structures so that you can make the best decision for your warehouse expansion.
What Is a Forklift Working Platform?
A working platform is a temporary structure. Unlike a mezzanine, which is connected to the building’s structure, a platform is more like a piece of equipment in your warehouse.
As a piece of equipment, a working platform is defined as an unoccupied, elevated platform used to store and provide access to equipment or mechanical systems.
The stairs, ladders, elevated walkways, or tread devices workers use to access the platform are also considered part of the platform.
This distinction as a piece of equipment means that the freestanding structure is not included in the building’s fire area and is not considered part of the building’s squares footage or the number of stories. Therefore, a platform is subject to fewer building code requirements, making the building approval process for one reasonably straightforward. Another related benefit of a platform over a mezzanine is a lower assessed value since it is viewed as a piece of equipment.
What Is a Mezzanine?
In contrast with a working platform, a mezzanine is considered as a permanent level in your warehouse. Since it physically connects to your building’s structure – like a balcony in a theater — it requires updated building plans and approval of those plans.
Adding a mezzanine means hiring a structural engineer to study the effect of adding this structure to your overall design.
A mezzanine is included as part of the overall fire area of the building, and the structure is counted in your square footage, so your building will have a higher assessed value, which translates to a higher tax rate.
Forklift Working Platform vs. Mezzanine: Which One Is Right for Your Warehouse?
Unfortunately, the terms “platform” and “mezzanine” are used interchangeably in the industry, adding to the confusion between the two. As you can see, although they are both elevated structures used for storage, they have fundamental differences.
There are four main types of elevated warehouse structures — shelving elevated platforms, rack supported platforms, freestanding platforms, and catwalk platforms. Each of these can be considered as a work platform or a mezzanine, depending on whether they are connected to the building structure or not.
- Shelving Elevated Platform: This structure is ideal for the storage of small items and order-picking access.
- Rack Supported Platform: This platform is supported by pallet rack upright frames rather than structural legs. The pallet racks built above and below this type of platform and the rack aisles serve double duty as walkways for access to stored goods.
- Freestanding Platform: Also known as an Industrial Work Platform, this is a self-supporting structure with columns that rest on the concrete slab. Each column baseplate is anchored to the concrete slab.
- Catwalk Platform: Catwalks provide extra workspace around other freestanding systems and allow warehouse workers more space to perform maintenance tasks.
Another type of structure often referred to as a platform is the forklift working platform safety cage. Sometimes called a “man basket” or a “man cage,” this structure is designed to work with a forklift to lift a worker to reach or perform a job in high places in your warehouse.
Most local safety regulators view the forklift safety cage as a temporary device used to perform quick jobs. Many local governments recommend that your forklift settings not allow your hydraulic lifting mechanism to drop the basket. In addition, they also want to set your cage to move no faster than 135 feet per minute.
In conclusion, elevated platforms can help maximize your workspace and facilitate access to your equipment and materials. All elevated structures require safety training and fall prevention systems, according to OSHA standards.
The main difference between the two platform categories is the permanency of the structure. Your decision on whether the structure is a platform (temporary) or a mezzanine (permanent) comes down to its intended use. Be clear with why you need the structure and how it will be used, and then accurately convey that information to building code officials.
If you have further questions about work platforms and mezzanines, please get in touch with us at Speedrack West. Our team is expert in listening to your storage needs and helping you decide what options will work best in your warehouse.