OSHA Requirements for Guardrail Systems

The guardrail guidelines set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace. These guidelines ensure guardrails are installed correctly and properly secure to help protect workers from falling off platforms, walkways, and landings.

While there are various reasons for falling in the workplace such as tripping over objects or due to wet floors, one of the most common reasons people fall are that they walk off a platform and fall onto a lower level. Guardrails are designed to prevent these occurrences.

If an employee gets injured on the job, it could result in a costly lawsuit or even a fatality.

Learning and understanding the OSHA regulations for guardrails is an important part of facility management and adhering to these guidelines is the law. Failure to do so could incur monetary fines and site closures.

What Are the OSHA Guardrail Guidelines in Construction?

OSHA guardrail guidelines are detailed in the 1910.23(e)(1) directive.

Guardrails should be installed on platforms 6 feet or more above the floor or ground. Toeboards are also necessary to prevent material from falling to a lower level and prevent employee’s feet slipping over the exposed edge. New guardrails must have a height of between 39 and 45 inches above the walking level.

An existing guardrail can have a vertical height between 36 to 44 inches. There is leeway in the standards because construction work is by nature, not permanent and construction employers typically install temporary guardrails. These guardrail systems are designed for temporary use with varied worksite conditions. OSHA states that guardrails that fail these standards are a de minimis violation, incurring no monetary fine for failure to comply.

Guardrails higher than 44 inches are allowed, but the extra height cannot create a hazard. OSHA states that openings beneath the top rail that allow for a 19-inch or large spherical object would be an unsafe condition and additional mid-rails are necessary.

Guardrails must be capable of withstanding 200-lbs of force applied within 2 inches of the top edge, with midrails, screens, and meshes capable of withstanding 150-lb of force.

Guardrails should not have any rough or jagged surfaces that could snag clothing, potentially causing a trip or fall.

What Are the OSHA Guardrail Guidelines in General/Non-Construction Sites?

The OSHA standards for guardrails are different in a non-construction environment.

It states that guardrails should be provided when employees are exposed to any floor or wall openings that could be a potential fall hazard.

The guardrail should consist of a top rail, intermediate rail and posts and have a vertical height of 42 inches.

Getting the right guardrail in place will help prevent accidents and could save lives.

Final Word

Getting the right guardrail in place will help prevent accidents, save lives, and stop employers facing potentially expensive lawsuits.

At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. we design, install, and maintain several types of guardrail including Industrial Steel Guardrails, Double/Single rails, and Drop-in Guard Rails.

All our guardrails meet local, state, and OSHA standards.

Giving you peace of mind and providing your employees with a safe working environment. Please contact a member of our team for assistance by calling 1-800-589-7225 (RACK.)

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