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Industrial Guardrails Buying Guide

Guardrails are used for safety and barrier purposes and are an integral part of various industrial structures. These assemblies are typically installed at platform ends and are incorporated within mezzanine structures in industrial sites, such as warehouses. They are used on highways as a protection barrier against vehicle impact, to prevent falls, and in production areas. Standard guardrail fabrication materials include variations of stainless steel, a material recommended because of its durability. Wooden guardrails are another common barrier material. There are numerous variations of standard guardrails, which must comply with OSHA standards. Both single and double railing systems are a standard guardrail installation option. Additionally, guardrail styles include W-beam, curved, bolt and drop-in varieties.  

Standard Guardrail Applications:

  • Pedestrian walkway protection  
  • Workstation and transformer area barrier
  • Protect equipment from forklift damages
  • Protect building from damage (ie, walls and doors)
  • Installed along roadways to prevent and minimize accidents

Guardrail Components:

A standard guardrail system is mounted to the floor by base plates, which are fastened with anchor bolts. Each guardrail system also includes columns that are commonly fabricated from steel. Such columns, or posts, are often pre-drilled by the manufacturer and include the hardware for installation. Standard galvanized steel systems (specifically 12-gauge) provide durability and are often fabricated in curved, 90 degree variations, for traffic areas. Other variations include cylindrical steel beams and flatter beams, featuring ribbing. For indoor and outdoor areas, railings are typically painted OSHA yellow. The type and amount of beam railing varies according to the application requirements. For instance, railing can consist of one to three beams and the beams may be coated with UV resistant polyurethane sleeves.

Guardrail Types and Styles

W-beams are the standard traffic and highway safety rails and are constructed in high gauge steel. To protect against environmental conditions, this type of beam is fabricated with zinc coatings and weather (resistant) coated materials.

Drop-in rails featurebrackets thatallow post sectionsto slide into the structure uponinstallation.This type ofrailing is easily accessible.

Bolt-on rails involve specific installation with hand tools and drills, though the hardware for this type of railing is typically included by the manufacturer.Single, double or triple rails may be selected for an application.

Additional Considerations

Professionals caution that it is essential to comply with OSHA standards for worker and installation safety reasons, as guardrails may malfunction if they are not installed properly. For example, precautions such as safety nets should be utilized during installation. The OSHA issues additional standard safety guidelines on their website: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/construction/falls/guardrail.html


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