Your employees can potentially experience a catastrophic injury when they do not have access to guardrails while working on platforms or unfinished steps. Because of the vital purpose of guardrails as a fall prevention device, you must know when they must be put in place.
When to Install Guardrails
If you are not sure whether to install guardrails, always follow the OSHA guidelines. Make sure to always install guardrails if a platform is 6 feet above the ground level or higher. Also, if there is a pit that is 6 feet or more below the ground level, you will need guardrails.
To make sure that the guardrail is up to code, you must make sure that it is at least 42 inches above the ground-level space. You must determine if the guardrail will be temporary or permanent. In some circumstances, it is impractical to install a permanent guardrail, such as if you are performing construction and the area where the guardrail is located will be replaced with something permanent.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Guardrails
Short-term guardrails are used for situations where you will only need the guardrail for a few months. If the guardrails will be in place for years, you should install permanent guardrails instead. You may need to eventually remove them and this will require serious alterations, but permanent guardrails can be much more reliable.
Another consideration is whether you need penetrating or non-penetrating guardrails. Non-penetrating guardrails have a very heavy base to keep them in place. This is beneficial if you have nowhere in which the guardrail can penetrate.
Guardrails not only function as fall prevention measures, but they can also serve as security measures. Guardrails separate areas and can make it more difficult for intruders to enter an unauthorized area.
Other Fall Prevention Measures
There are many additional fall prevention measures your employees should take even if you will be using guardrails. For example, your employees should wear shoes that are designed to reduce the risk of falling. Also, it's crucial to keep areas clean and tidy to make sure that there is nothing that will cause your employees to trip.
There are some cases in which guardrails are not practical. However, in this situation, you should use an alternative fall prevention safety device. An example of an alternative is a fall arrest system. The goal of this system is to catch the worker if he or she starts to fall.