No matter your industry, guardrails are a vital part of your workplace protection strategy. Though they often go unnoticed or ignored, they are an important fixture in every OSHA-compliant facility.
It may come as a surprise to some that guardrails aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Aside from the actual placement and length of the guardrails in question, there’s more than one type that can be used.
Guardrails fall into two major categories: permanent and temporary. We can also refer to these two groups as “penetrating” and “non-penetrating,” respectively.
Read on for a quick breakdown of the functionality and variations of non-penetrating guardrails.
Non-Penetrating Guardrails: The Basics
Non-penetrating guardrails, in the simplest terms, are guardrails that are not physically anchored to a surface – they’re not bolted down, glued, or attached in any other way. As such, one of the most beneficial attributes of these systems is they don’t require drilling or penetrations into expensive roofing or flooring systems.
Instead, they maintain their position and most importantly, their horizontal rails remain compliant with OSHA’s 200-pound load requirement, by utilizing heavy baseplates (the “stands” where the poles meet the ground). Think of the makeshift sign bases you occasionally see in parking lots: a bucket of cement with a pole and a sign sticking out. Non-penetrating guardrail systems use the same principle of a heavy weighted base holding poles in place.
Despite sometimes being referred to as “temporary” guardrails, non-penetrating systems also have the added benefit of being either permanent or temporary safety solutions. While they are removable and transferable, they are still OSHA-compliant when used as permanent fixtures.
Non-Penetrating Guardrail Variations
When it comes to choosing the right guardrail for your facility, you’ve got a few choices:
Architectural non-penetrating guardrails are meant to ensure the presence of safety equipment does not detract from the overall appearance of a facility. These guardrails are especially common on rooftops with buildings housing a “green roof.”
The rails are often curved away from the roof’s edge so as not to be seen from the ground. However, straight, angled rails are also used on occasion.
Collapsible guardrails, much like architectural guardrails, are excellent options when you don’t want to detract from the visual appeal of your facility. While architectural guardrails are manufactured in such a way that they are still upright but not visible from the ground, collapsible guardrails actually fold so they’re not seen. The guardrail bases include a one-way pivot system that allows the rails to be lowered when not in use.
Roof hatch systems protect rooftop doorways from becoming hazards. These hatch protectors are installed against the hatch “curb” – where the door opening meets the rooftop – and include a self-closing gate to ensure the entrance remains secure. The frame adjusts as the sides are tightened.
Guardrails, however inconspicuous they may seem, play an integral role in protecting against falls and accidents. Choosing the right ones for your facility may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Whether you’re looking for a temporary solution or a permanent one, non-penetrating guardrails may be the perfect fit.
Need some help determining whether non-penetrating guardrails are right for your workspace? Contact us today to learn more and receive a free quote.
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