What is the Role of Handrails and Toe Boards in the Safe Installation of Scaffolding?

May 24, 2021

The ability to stand erect is an accepted talent among human beings. Unfortunately, that normal human faculty varies from one person to the next. Even if it didn't, scaffolding towers simply cannot afford the luxury of 'hoping' someone won't lose their balance. Handrails are therefore mandated on every level of the staging as a fall prevention aid. What about toe boards? Where do they fit into the fall prevention guidelines?

Role of Handrails

Installed at a height 0f 900-mm to 1000-mm, approved handrails provide a balance restorative influence. If the worker is on the move, the scaffold rails support and bolster that movement. If an employee loses balance, the handrail is ideally located so that his off-balance body does not slip under the chest-high barrier. Importantly, this edge protection system exists as a safety aid. Employees should not lean on the railing or use it for bracing during a particularly tough work procedure.

Again, there are other solutions here, including fall protection tethers and safety netting. However, a properly erected scaffolding frame, one that employs a diligently supervised edge protection system, relies on the hand railing as a primary fall prevention support. In other words, and this fact cannot be overemphasised, handrails and toe guards are preventative measures. They stop the hazardous incidents from ever occurring. What can be more important than a measure that eliminates the hazard at its source?

Importance of Toe Boards

Modern work platforms have developed some interesting features, including high traction surface grips. They're textured so that tools and materials don't slip away, pass over the edge of the platform, and drop dangerously towards an unwary ground worker. Still, it's tough to guarantee this material gripping feature. Toe boards are the answer.

Mounted as knee-high perimeter walls, the wooden planks stop rolling tools and sliding building materials from falling from the staging. Granted, the worker on the level below is, by law, wearing a hard hat. In fact, every site operative must wear a safety helmet.

That single piece of head apparel does save lives, but it cannot stop every heavy brick, nor can it fend off every falling tool. Toe boards eliminate the possibility. They prevent drop hazards, and they even help stabilise the worker if his foot slides over the edge of an elevated work floor.

It's true, there are all kinds of after-the-fact safety systems. Safety helmets protect heads from impact. Then there are nets and tether, plus a whole range of effective fall control solutions. Still, the issue exists on the work flooring, on the wooden planks and boards of the elevated platform, so that's where the issue should be handled. Importantly, this goal is comprehensively addressed by a properly set-up system of handrails and toe boards.


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