Is It a Mezzanine or a Work Platform?

by Kevin O'Neill

What is the difference between a mezzanine and a work platform?

A mezzanine is a permanent intermediate level within a building that is part of its physical structure; e.g., a partial story between two main stories of a building (auditorium, theater, entrance lobby, etc.).

An elevated work platform is a piece of equipment that increases usable space or provides support and safe and convenient access to equipment. It is not treated as a permanent part of the building, but it can become part of a machine (for access, operation or maintenance).

The material handling industry is starting to see a shift away from the word “mezzanine.” Using the word “mezzanine” can mean nothing or it can mean everything.

Referring to a structure as a mezzanine can complicate the permitting process.

Often times a building official will view a mezzanine as part of the building rather than as a piece of capital equipment. Believe it or not, much of the confusion comes directly from the word mezzanine itself. Buildings sometimes are constructed with a “mezzanine level” which is part of the building; that kind of “mezzanine” is not what Steele Solutions creates. When that misconception happens, it can cause costly changes in building plans, such as the need for bathrooms, elevators, handicap accessibility and even higher tax rates.

To avoid this potential problem with how a building inspector views a steel structure, Steele Solutions recommends our distributors use other terms when discussing a structure with a customer, building inspector or your customers’ insurance agents.

Other common industry terms for such steel structures are:

  • Equipment platform
  • Work platform
  • Elevated structure

Keep in mind the terminology does not change anything in Steele Solutions’ design, or even how the platform will be used; it is simply a change in terminology.

Advantages of Not Being a Mezzanine

There are immediate advantages for not referring to the structure as a mezzanine.

  • Clearly defines what the structure is being used for.
  • Easier building approval process.
  • Capital equipment – depreciated over 7 years instead of 31 years.
  • Reduced property taxes – platform space not counted in square footage of building and mezzanine space can be.
  • Can lead to a lower accessed value.

So be careful how you term a steel structure. The wrong word can cost you.

Kevin O’Neill is president of Steele Solutions, a designer and fabricator of steel structures in Franklin, Wis., with installations around the world.

About the blog

Learn more about mezzanines, work platforms and other steel structures, and about trends in the material handling and industrial processing markets from our blog posts by Steele Solutions President Kevin O’Neill. Check out the blog archives for helpful advice on structure selection, siting and applications.

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