Accidents that Can Be Prevented by Guardrails
May accidents are completely avoidable by using guardrails. Some of these include:
- Skylight falls
- loading dock accidents
- Falls from balconies and mezzanines
- Aerial lift and elevated platform accidents
Because guardrails are capable of preventing many kinds of falls, these systems are highly encouraged by OSHA.
Guardrail systems are easy to install and do not require extensive training to understand their safety capabilities. OSHA has set in place specific regulations that apply to guardrail fall protection. See 29 CFR 1926.502(b) et. seq.:
- “Guardrail systems.” Guardrail systems and their use shall comply with the following provisions:
- Top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, shall be 42 inches (1.1 m) plus or minus 3 inches (8 cm) above the walking/working level. When conditions warrant, the height of the top edge may exceed the 45-inch height, provided the guardrail system meets all other criteria of this paragraph. Note: When employees are using stilts, the top edge height of the top rail, or equivalent member, shall be increased an amount equal to the height of the stilts. 29 CFR 1926.502(b)(1).
- Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, or equivalent intermediate structural members shall be installed between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working surface when there is no wall or parapet wall at least 21 inches (53 cm) high. 29 CFR 1926.502(b)(2).
- Midrails, when used, shall be installed at a height midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working level. 29 CFR1926.502(b)(2)(i).
- Screens and mesh, when used, shall extend from the top rail to the walking/working level and along the entire opening between top rail supports. 29 CFR 1926.502(b)(2)(ii).
- Intermediate members (such as balusters), when used between posts, shall be not more than 19 inches (48 cm) apart. 29 CFR 1926.502(b)(2)(iii).
- Other structural members (such as additional midrails and architectural panels) shall be installed such that there are no openings in the guardrail system that are more than 19 inches (.5 m) wide. 29 CFR 1926.502(b)(2)(iv).
Whether it is temporary or permanent, all guardrail systems used for fall protection must meet the guidelines required by OSHA. If you have been injured due to a guardrail accident or fall protection negligence, contact an experienced fall protection attorney to help you navigate your claim.
Providing a Safe Work Environment
Guardrails provide a safe work environment because they are easy to understand, and are capable of providing fall protection from every angle. OSHA sets fall protection requirements for specific work functions, and more often than not, guardrails are usually among the suggested fall protection systems. For example, according to 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(2)(i), each worker constructing a leading edge 6 feet or more above a lower level must be protected by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. 29 CFR 1910.23(a)(4), also requires the use of a standard skylight screen or a fixed standing railing around all exposed sides of skylights under specific circumstances. Failure to provide them can also create an unsafe work environment.
Talk to an Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of an employer to properly secure a working environment with guardrails, contact an experienced fall protection attorney today. Our initial consultation is always free, so call us at (713) 932-0777 for more information.