Mast Climbing Work Platform

A mast climber consists of a work platform system that moves up and down a vertical truss structure by using a powered drive unit.

Description:

A mast climbing work platform, or mast climber, is an engineering control that can reduce musculoskeletal disorders from overhead work, stooped postures and manual material handling by allowing workers to perform tasks between their knee and shoulder height.  

  

The mast climbing work platform consists of a modular work platform system that climbs a vertical truss structure using either a gas-powered hydraulic power system or an electric motor power system.  The vertical truss structure can be configured as either a single or twin mast.  The platform typically includes a lower level of scaffold planking that projects toward the building's facade as well as a higher materials platform.


Figure 1. Mast climbing work platform


Risks Addressed:

Heavy lifting and carrying can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg.  The mast climbing work platform can help reduce heavy lifting and carrying by minimizing the number of times materials need to be moved from platform to platform. 

Overhead work can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as shoulder muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons; or rotator cuff tears, which is a rupture of a shoulder tendon.  The mast climbing work platform can help reduce overhead work by allowing workers to work at an appropriate height between the knee and shoulder. 


How Risks are Reduced:

Compared to traditional scaffolding or manual crank tower scaffolding, the mast-climbing scaffold allows the work platform to be easily raised or lowered, keeping work between knee and shoulder height.  A materials platform can be established to allow easy handling of materials. The platform may be moved vertically with the work. Unlike with traditional scaffolding, the work materials do not need to be moved each time the work platform is raised. This reduces the risk of developing work-related low back pain by decreasing heavy lifting and manual material handling at work.

Research has shown that workers who spend more time working in a stooped posture or other awkward back postures are at a higher risk for developing low back problems. Studies have reported a decrease in low back pain and lumbar stress among those working with materials kept at or near waist height.
 
Manufacturers also report that the ability to set the scaffold to any height allows workers to arrange their materials to be between knee and shoulder height. Materials do not have to be moved as frequently, so there is less manual material handling of supplies and scaffolding parts.
 
There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of using mast climbing work platforms on reducing musculoskeletal disorders. Regardless, health and safety experts believe that worksites that use mast climbing work platforms may have fewer incidents of musculoskeletal disorders among their workers due to reduced exposure to known risk factors.

Effects on Productivity:

Mast climbers may effect productivity due to: reduced injuries, shortened production time, reduced labor costs, and a reduced need for heavy equipment. 


Additional Considerations:

It is important to follow the manufacturer guidelines and standard safety procedures when using mast climbing work platforms. Here are some specific points to consider:

  • User modifications of platforms to fit structures should be evaluated by a professional engineer. Several of the reported fatalities associated with mast scaffolds involved modifications performed on site.
  • The platform must be properly loaded to maintain balance and must not exceed the length allowed by the manufacturer. 
  • Guard rails must be removed to load the platform therefore safety harnesses are required at those times.
  • The mast must be tied to the structure at intervals established by the manufacturer (typically at 20 foot intervals). 
  • The anchor point must be sufficiently strong in tension and compression to meet requirements (usually 3,000 pounds). 
  • Tie-in requirements may increase if heavy wind loads are anticipated.
  • Workers must be trained on the erection and use of the scaffold and a competent person designated

Contributors:

Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Alysha Meyers, PhD – University of Iowa


Hazards Addressed:

Availability

Dunlop Mastclimbers
To obtain information, visit http://www.dunlopmastclimbers.com or contact 1-800-995-1020

Hydek
To obtain information, visit http://www.hydek.com or contact 1-404-523-0708

Fraco
To obtain information, visit http://www.fraco.com or contact 1-450-658-0094

Hydro Mobile
To obtain information, visit http://www.hydro-mobile.com or contact 1-888-484-9376

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.