What is the Height Requirement for a Guard Rail in a Scaffolding?

May 16, 2019

While it's true that scaffolding workers are rarely all be the same height, the guard rails that protect their movements must comply with a height requirement statute, although there's some wriggle room to be found here. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations own guidelines, that height can vary anywhere between 0.9-metres and 1.2-metres. That's a minimum guard rail height of 38-inches and a maximum of 45-inches for those of you who favour the imperial measurement system.

But Why Impose A Guard Rail Height Requirement?

Again, not every working person is the same height. Nonetheless, there are national averages. Generally speaking, men tend to average out at a height of about 5-ft 9-inches (176-cm). Using the OSHA regulations, the average height man and his shorter friend, plus his tall mate, all have a safeguard in place when they're walking scaffolding platforms. Tall or short, if you lose your balance, then rigid guard rails will prevent you from falling. Having said that, maybe you could slip beneath this fall protection measure and still fall. But no, that's not a possibility, not if the guard railing has a properly installed mid-rail.

Installing Mid-Rail Protection

To review, the OSHA regulations impose that 0.9 to 1.2-metre height spread. The top rail can't be shorter than that lower limit, nor can it be higher than the set maximum. By the way, in Australia at least, that maximum height drops a little. In this nation, a 1.1-metre height maximum is favoured. If you live in another country, do look up your own guard rail height requirements. Odds are, since most people around the world average out at the same height, your guard rail regulations will also state a roughly 1-metre peak, give or take a few centimetres. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Mid-rails should be installed so that a worker can't slip under the guard rails. Up top, there are the guard rails, then there are the mid-rails. Even at the lowest point, where the rails securely couple to the platform, there are toe guards to stop an incautiously placed foot from slipping.

Basically, the height requirements exist to stabilize momentarily unbalanced scaffolding personnel. They also provide a sense of in-real-time security, for you can grip a top rail as you make your way along a scaffolding platform. Perhaps you're carrying a heavy tool, or maybe you're unbalanced by the building materials you're hoisting. Whatever the reason, this physically rigid protection system is maintained at an assigned height so that you have a fall arrest railing between you and an open drop.

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