Title:
Rafter platform
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A platform installed on a rafter or joist provides stability and improved safety in construction-related settings. The platform may be sized according to the specific rafters, and in some embodiments the platform may span two or more rafters. A non-slip surface on top of the platform improves traction for the user.



Inventors:
Clapper, Edward O. (Tempe, AZ, US)
Application Number:
11/185394
Publication Date:
02/08/2007
Filing Date:
07/20/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H12/00
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Primary Examiner:
HERRING, BRENT W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICHARD C. CALDERWOOD (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A rafter platform comprising: a body having a horizontal stage; at least one lateral retainer coupled below and substantially perpendicular to the horizontal stage; and a frictional element affixed to the top surface of the horizontal stage.

2. The platform of claim 1 wherein: the body, the horizontal stage, the lateral retainer and the frictional element are integrally formed.

3. The platform of claim 2 wherein: the integrally formed body, horizontal stage, and lateral retainer comprise injection molded plastic.

4. The platform of claim 2 wherein: the integrally formed body, horizontal stage, and lateral retainer comprise an extruded monolithic component.

5. The platform of claim 1 wherein: the horizontal stage is of an elongated form; a first at least one lateral retainer and a second at least one lateral retainer form a first retaining channel beneath a first end of the horizontal stage, and a third at least one lateral retainer and a fourth at least one lateral retainer form a second retaining channel beneath a second end of the horizontal stage; and the frictional element comprises a non-slip pad.

6. The platform of claim 1 wherein: the horizontal stage and the at least one retaining channel comprise sheet metal; and the frictional element comprises a non-slip pad.

7. The platform of claim 1 wherein: a first at least one lateral retainer and a second at least one lateral retainer form a retaining channel in conjunction with the horizontal stage; and the frictional element comprises a non-slip pad.

8. The platform of claim 1 wherein: the at least one lateral retainer comprises at least one opening suitable to admit a fastener

9. A system comprising: a first structural rafter; a second structural rafter, adjacent and substantially parallel to the first and spaced from the first rafter by a distance approximately dictated by construction standards; a rafter platform having an elongated horizontal stage of a longitudinal dimension sufficient to span a typical spacing between adjacent rafters; a first retaining channel coupled to a first end of the horizontal stage and disposed upon the first rafter; and a second retaining channel coupled to a second end of the horizontal stage and disposed upon the second rafter.

10. An apparatus for use with a horizontal construction beam, the apparatus comprising: a first stage member body having a lower surface and a substantially planar upper surface; and a first pair of retainers rigidly coupled to the lower surface of the stage member body; wherein a portion of the lower surface of the first stage member body between the first pair of retainers and adjacent faces of the first pair of retainers define a first retaining channel having a lateral dimension suitable for closely straddling the construction beam.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein: the upper surface of the first stage member body has a non-slip texture.

12. The apparatus of claim 10 further for use with another construction beam, wherein the apparatus further comprises: a second stage member body; a second pair of retainers rigidly coupled to the second stage member body; and a horizontal stage having a first end coupled to the first stage member body and a second end coupled to the second stage member body; such that the apparatus is adapted to be mounted to the beam the other beam.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein: the first and second stage member bodies are rotatably coupled to the horizontal stage.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to the area of tools, and more specifically to tools used to facilitate human safety and mobility in a construction environment.

2. Background

Structures intended for habitation, commerce or other functions are composed of framing and structural elements often referred to as “beams”. The arrangement of such beams is guided by engineering principles, customer requirements and other factors. Human workers involved in the assembly of such structures are subjected to numerous safety hazards, including the risk of falling from the structure during construction. In addition, structures such as residential buildings are often constructed in such a way that the attic of the structure is “unfinished”. This is intended to refer to the condition that the beams of the attic affixed to the ceiling below are exposed within the attic environment and do not support a floor within the attic. Such an attic is not intended for habitation. During maintenance activities, however, the home owner or other repair worker may be required to work and move about extensively in the attic space. Due to the unfinished nature of such attics, there is a risk of injury to the worker or damage to the home if the worker inadvertently steps between the rafters, since the ceiling is usually not constructed to support such an action. Thus there is a need to reduce this risk, and there is a benefit to improving the efficiency when working in such hazardous environments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be understood more fully from the detailed description given below and from the accompanying drawings of embodiments of the invention which, however, should not be taken to limit the invention to the specific embodiments described, but are for explanation and understanding only.

FIGS. 1A and 1B respectively show front and side views of one embodiment of the invention, installed on a rafter. FIG. 1C shows a perspective view of the same embodiment without the rafter.

FIGS. 2A and 2B respectively show front and side views of one embodiment of the invention, installed on a rafter. FIG. 2C shows a perspective view of the same embodiment without the rafter.

FIGS. 3A and 3B respectively show top and front views of yet another embodiment of the invention, installed on a rafter. FIG. 3C shows a perspective view of the same embodiment without the rafter.

FIG. 4 shows the embodiment from FIGS. 3A-3C in operation by a human user in a construction environment.

FIG. 5 shows a front view another embodiment according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The invention may be constructed in a variety of ways, and the embodiments described herein should not be considered limiting. An embodiment may be designed, for instance, to function as a single-rafter platform in one configuration, and include features to convert two or more platforms into an embodiment which spans two or more rafters. Such an embodiment is not explicitly shown herein, however it is well within the intended scope of this invention. Additionally, an embodiment may be devised in such a way that assembly or disassembly of the embodiment facilitates portability, shipping, storage and the like.

The terms “platform” and “rafter platform” are used interchangeably, and are intended to refer to the functional invention regardless of particular embodiment. The term “rafter” refers to the individual beams or joists typically used in construction of frames, sub-floors, roof structures and ceilings. In the embodiments shown, the exemplified rafter is composed of wood, and is commonly known as a “two-by-six”. However, metal components of various sizes can easily apply instead. The specific embodiment's design criteria would naturally be adjusted to accommodate the beam type intended for the embodiment's use.

FIGS. 1A and 1B depict a rafter platform 10 installed on a rafter 20. FIG. 1C shows the rafter platform without the rafter, and is provided for clarity. The platform has a horizontal stage 30 and two lateral retainers 40, forming a retaining channel 60 of a dimension sufficient to closely bestride the rafter. The retainers are referred to as “lateral retainers” because, although they extend vertically downward, they provide a lateral bearing force and lateral stability. Alternatively, they could be referred to as “vertical retaining members” or simply “rafter retainers”. A non-slip pad 50 is affixed to the top surface of the horizontal stage. In this embodiment, the stage and lateral retainers are integrally made of a structural material. Examples of applicable materials include cast aluminum, PC-ABS plastic, liquid-crystal polymers (LCP), fiberglass, etc. The form factor shown for the platform body is conducive to extrusion processes. Thus the embodiment shown might be injection molded, cast or extruded in the material of choice. The non-slip pad may be an adhesively attached sheet of abrasive material, such as the safety pads used on stairs and floors in industrial environments. While the stage and lateral retainers are shown as one integral material, this need not be the case. For example, the lateral retainers might be composed of an injection molded polymer and bonded by an adhesive to the stage, which might be made of steel. The inclusion of the non-slip pad is not absolutely essential, but is useful for ensuring safe use of the invention. Alternatively, the non-slip function might instead be provided by a molded texture on the top surface of the horizontal stage.

FIGS. 2A and 2B depict a different rafter platform 110 installed on a rafter 120. FIG. 2C shows the rafter platform without the rafter, and is provided for clarity. The platform has a horizontal stage 130 and two lateral retainers 140, forming a retaining channel 160 of a dimension sufficient to closely bestride the rafter. A guide flange 170 on the end of each lateral retainer facilitates alignment during platform installation. In this embodiment, the stage and lateral retainers are integrally made of a formed thin-walled structural material. Examples of applicable materials include sheet steel, sheet brass or other sheet metals. A non-slip feature 150 is affixed to the top surface of the horizontal stage. The non-slip feature may be a pad of adhesively affixed sheet of abrasive material, such as the safety pads used on stairs and floors in industrial environments. The inclusion of the non-slip pad is not absolutely essential, but is useful for ensuring safe use of the invention.

FIGS. 3A and 3B depict a different rafter platform 210 installed on a rafter 220. FIG. 3C shows the rafter platform without the rafter, and is provided for clarity. The platform has a horizontal stage 230 and two lateral retainers 240, forming a retaining channel 260 of a dimension sufficient to closely bestride the rafter. In this embodiment, the stage and lateral retainers are integrally formed from a molding process such as casting or injection molding. A non-slip feature 250 is formed from a rubberized coating in a region on the top surface of the horizontal stage. The inclusion of the non-slip feature is not absolutely essential, but is useful for ensuring safe use of the invention. The non-slip feature need not be a coating, but may be integrally molded as a textured region on the top surface of the horizontal stage. In fact, a variety of processes or components may be used to improve traction, and the variety of example solutions described in these embodiments should not be considered as limiting or comprehensive.

FIG. 4 depicts a construction environment 310 occupied by a worker 370 traversing a number of typically spaced rafters 320. The worker is shown standing on a first rafter platform 380 with his left foot and a second rafter platform 385 with his right foot. The worker may safely advance within the environment by stepping from one of the first or second platforms to a third platform 386, and subsequently onto either a fourth platform 387 or a fifth platform 388. The worker may then move about the environment by stepping or standing on any of the platforms as necessary. The increased surface area provided by the platform in lieu of the rafter below it provides a safer, more stable means for the worker to accomplish his tasks in this environment. Examples of such environments include residential attics, as well as unfinished levels of a structure under construction. In some structures, the rafter may be described as a “joist”. It should be noted that the invention may be useful in a number of environments not explicitly described.

FIG. 5 shows a different rafter platform 410 mounted on a first rafter 420 and an adjacent second rafter 425. A first lateral retainer 440, a second lateral retainer 441 and a first stage coupler 430 form a first retaining channel 460 of a dimension sufficient to closely bestride a first rafter. A third lateral retainer 445, a fourth lateral retainer 446 and a second stage coupler 435 form a second retaining channel 465 of a dimension sufficient to closely bestride a second rafter. A horizontal stage 450 is coupled to the first stage coupler at one end, and coupled to the second stage coupler at the opposing end. The horizontal stage is elongated and of a sufficient dimension to span two rafters which may be adjacent or which may have intermediate rafters (not shown) between them. For instance, many building codes in the United States call for rafters to be parallel-wise spaced by approximately 16″ from the center of one rafter to the next adjacent rafter. Other codes may call for a different spacing. In any case, the horizontal stage is of a dimension sufficient to span the entire space required by the rafter spacing as well as the rafter platform components below it. In the 16″ spacing example, for instance, the horizontal stage might be 20″ in length in order to accomplish the requirements according to the design. It should be noted that the exact spacing is not a limiting distinction for the invention, and in fact the invention may be designed for any spacing. Further, the simple case of two points of support should not be interpreted as a limiting factor. For instance, the horizontal stage may span three or four rafters instead of two.

In some embodiments, the apparatus does not have an extruded shape. For example, there may be lateral bracing members (not shown) extending between the horizontal stage and the vertical retainers, to increase the lateral strength of the structure and improve its resistance to bending if the user steps on the edge of the horizontal stage.

In some embodiments, the stage couplers are rigidly coupled to the horizontal platform, and thus the mechanism is adapted for use with rafters of a predetermined spacing such as 20″. In other embodiments, the stage couplers are rotatably coupled to the horizontal platform, enabling the mechanism to be used with rafters of different spacing by placing the horizontal platform on the rafters at an angle other than 90 degrees. In some such embodiments, it may be desirable to limit the angular movement of the stage couplers, to prevent the horizontal platform from being placed at unsafely shallow angles with respect to the rafters.

The various components shown in the FIGS. are not necessarily shown to scale. Sizing the various components is well within the abilities of an ordinary skilled designer, when armed with the teachings of this disclosure.

Reference in the specification to “an embodiment,” “one embodiment,” “some embodiments,” or “other embodiments” means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiments is included in at least some embodiments, but not necessarily all embodiments, of the invention. The various appearances “an embodiment,” “one embodiment,” or “some embodiments” are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiments.

If the specification states a component, feature, structure, or characteristic “may”, “might”, or “could” be included, that particular component, feature, structure, or characteristic is not required to be included. If the specification or claim refers to “a” or “an” element, that does not mean there is only one of the element. If the specification or claims refer to “an additional” element, that does not preclude there being more than one of the additional element.

The various features illustrated in the figures may be combined in many ways, and should not be interpreted as though limited to the specific embodiments in which they were explained and shown.

Those skilled in the art having the benefit of this disclosure will appreciate that many other variations from the foregoing description and drawings may be made within the scope of the present invention. Indeed, the invention is not limited to the details described above. Rather, it is the following claims including any amendments thereto that define the scope of the invention.