Standards for Guardrail and Handrail Systems

09 / 18 / 2014 | Safety Articles | Ryan Michels

When it comes to guardrails and handrails there are certain standards that must be applied. According to OSHA regulations, a railing is required when working at 4 inches or more. OSHA 1910.23(c)(1) Every open-sided floor or platform 4 feet or more above adjacent floor or ground level shall be guarded by a standard railing (or the equivalent as specified in paragraph (e)(3) of this section) on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder. The railing shall be provided with a toeboard wherever, beneath the open sides, persons can pass, there is moving machinery, or there is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard.

A handrail by definition is, “A horizontal or sloping rail intended for grasping by the hand for guidance or support”. Handrails are required on all stairs that have three steps or more or ramps with a rise of 6 inches and above. The height of handrails should not be more than 37 inches or less than 30 inches from the upper surface of the handrail to the surface of the tread. OSHA 1910.23(d)(1)Every flight of stairs having four or more risers shall be equipped with standard stair railings or standard handrails as specified in paragraphs (d)(1)(i) through (v) of this section.

The guardrail system is used to prevent an employee, that might fall on a walkway, from falling to a level or the ground below. A guardrail system is defined as “A barrier erected to prevent employees from falling to lower levels”. Guardrails must be 42 inches high and have a top rail, intermediate rail and posts. OSHA 1910.23(e)(1) A standard railing shall consist of top rail, intermediate rail, and posts, and shall have a vertical height of 42 inches nominal from upper surface of top rail to floor, platform, runway, or ramp level. The top rail shall be smooth-surfaced throughout the length of the railing. The intermediate rail shall be approximately halfway between the top rail and the floor, platform, runway, or ramp. The ends of the rails shall not overhang the terminal posts except where such overhang does not constitute a projection hazard.

At W.S. Safety Technologies, we carry Kwik-Rail, which is a metal safety handrail system, and Bluewater SafetyRail 2000 guardrail systems. Both are easy to assemble and install. W.S. Safety is equipped to handle all of your fall protection safety needs, please contact us today.

About the author

Ryan Michels Ryan has been involved in the design and installation of custom fall protection systems with W.S. Safety Technologies since 2005. Ryan is a specialist in the different types of products, applications, and regulatory codes governing proper design and use of fall protection systems.

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