Working at heights requires a keen focus on safety. It starts with having the right equipment for keeping workers safe on the job. Choosing the right platform is determined by the job you are performing and several other factors. Use the information below to help you select the right equipment for your job.


Training: Limited OSHA training needed.

Fall Protection: OSHA standards do not require fall protection for portable ladders below 24 feet.

Access: User must get off and move ladder to reach different sections of work.

Efficiency: Allows for only one worker at a time with limited work area and limited tools. Three-point contact must be made at all times. Takes minutes to inspect.  Restricted to 20 feet (Type 1A heavy duty industrial ladders). Not recommended for use in high winds or bad weather.

Stability: A flat surface is recommended. Ladder legs make up the small base. User must remain between the rungs and can easily tip if overreaching outside the rungs.


Training: Properly experienced, trained; and selected by a competent person.

Fall Protection: Either a guardrail system or a personal fall arrest system (FAS) must be used when the scaffold is more than 10 feet high.

Access:Provides for a larger work section but must be set up for the entire work section, which takes time.

Efficiency: Two or more workers can be on platform with tools and equipment. It can take an hour or more to set up, secure and inspect. Not recommended for use in high winds. Bad weather can make platform slippery.

Stability: Can be placed on uneven surface with adjustment supports. Needs to be restrained at higher elevations (check OSHA regulation). Potential for collapse if not inspected or built correctly.

Scissor Lift

Training: Qualified operator needs to be trained, certified and authorized to use.

Fall Protection: Includes a high-sided railing cage. No fall protection required.

Access: Allows for a smaller work section than scaffolding but does not have to be set up for each section of work. Can be lowered and moved to another location in minutes.

Efficiency: Two can work on the platform with tools and equipment. Takes just minutes to inspect and set up reducing labor time and increasing productivity. Easier to use indoors and in tight places, compared to scaffolding. Ability to come down immediately during high winds or bad weather.

Stability: New features like all-terrain wheels, self-leveling, scissor lifts on tracks and outriggers help stabilize on many different surfaces.