Helping to ensure the safety of customers and workers is an important aspect of operating a business. Like traffic signage and parking lot striping, guardrails are a crucial aspect of every company’s parking layout, as your parking lot contractor will tell you. Most likely, you already have guardrails in a number of points at your workplace.
You should know about the variations in guardrails and their proper usage. It may seem like a low priority, but educating yourself about Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expectations and figuring out if your workplace is in compliance can save you from the embarrassment of an OSHA violation and a possible fine. If you’re not in compliance, it may be time to learn about guardrail installation services from your parking lot contractor.
OSHA has provided overall regulations for guardrails. A number of these regulations pertain to big industries, including food service and retail (often called “general industries” by OSHA). The construction industry once had its own rules, but is now required to adhere to the same rules as other industries.
The following is a list of OSHA rules for guardrails:
- The height of guardrails must be 42 inches, 3 inches more or less above working or walking levels.
- All guardrails must consist of posts, a top rail, and an intermediate rail. Intermediate rails must be placed about halfway between the top rail and the working or walking level. Posts must be a maximum of 19 inches apart.
- Guardrails are required to stand up to a minimum of 200 pounds of force on all sides.
- The surfaces of guardrails have to be smooth to the touch to prevent the scraping of hands or clothing getting caught, which can cause falls.
Temporary and Permanent Solutions
When trying to decide what kind of guardrail protection your business needs, you’ll first have to decide if you need something movable. Permanent guardrails are affixed to another object or structure, like a wall or a roof. This renders them unmovable. By contrast, temporary guardrails are not permanently affixed to a surface, which allows them to be moved. Temporary guardrails typically need little in the way of setup and are easily taken down.
In deciding between temporary and permanent solutions, the main question you’ll need to ask yourself is if the guardrails will have to serve in the short term or over the long haul. In general, if they need to stay in place for a few days to a few months, you can think of them as short term. If a project such as repairs or adding on to your building will continue for a longer time frame but won’t need the same precautions once it’s done, you probably won’t require permanent guardrails.
If you’re required to have safety checks on a regular basis, the decision about temporary versus permanent is yours and will depend on the frequency of these checks. If they only come annually or semiannually, you should be fine with temporary guardrails. Your parking lot contractor can help you sort out these issues if necessary.
Choosing Temporary Guardrails
You can spot permanent guardrails near loading docks, on rooftops, and along mezzanines. Temporary guardrails offer even more choices, and you can discuss them all with your parking lot contractor. There are four basic kinds of temporary guardrails:
- Non-penetrating guardrails. These have heavy bases for their posts to hold up to the minimum 200-pound force rule from OSHA.
- Architectural guardrails. These are commonly seen on rooftops. They protect workers from roof edges, and because they’re designed with a backward slope, they can’t be seen clearly from the ground, which helps to keep the building’s exterior looking good.
- Collapsible guardrails. These can be folded flat, without having to move the bases. Often, these guardrails are the right choice when they have to be replaced exactly in their prior location.
- D300 Series guardrails. These go beyond the minimum OSHA force requirements: they can hold up to 300 pounds of force from all sides.
It’s crucial to make sure your business is in compliance with OSHA’s rules for guardrails. You may need help deciding if you need permanent or temporary rails, or help choosing from among the array of available temporary models. Call our experienced team today at Sunline Contracting to learn more.