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Toolbox Talk on Fall prevention guardrails system: Safety Toolbox Talk Meeting Topic

Toolbox Talk on Fall prevention guardrails system
Toolbox Talk on Fall prevention guardrails system

Toolbox Talk on Fall prevention guardrails system: Safety Toolbox Talk Meeting Topic

Fall prevention includes the guardrail system that helps prevent falls when people work at height or use access that are unprotected edges, such as newly built stairs or areas around the excavation or any openings, pit, holes in floor/ground.
 The Toolbox talk on fall prevention guardrails system should be conducted after carefully assessing the risk and prior erecting the scaffold or before starting any work on the pitched roof or at unprotected edge surface. Even when working at ground level near the excavated area or access cross overs where there is risk of falls, the edge must be protected with guardrails system.
The guardrails system provides the barrier to prevent falls of workers as well as material from height and consist of Top-rails, Mid-rails and Toe-guard/Toa-boards.
Top-rail: It is the uppermost horizontal rail that mainly protects the worker from falls.
Mid-rail: It is provided in the middle between the top rail and the work platform surface.
Toe-guard/board: It is provided at bottom part of guardrail system between the mid-rail and working platform surface to prevent falls of material, tools and other objects.
The guardrail system not only prevents workers from falling, but also helps to prevent fall of object onto a person below grade.

Regulations – Guardrail fall prevention system

According to OSHA, fall prevention and protection must be implemented at a height greater than 1.8 m above the reference level and there is risk of fall.
Fixed fall prevention system i.e. the guardrails system is preferred over the use of the personal fall arrest system confirming to OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(b).
Pursuant to OSHA CFR 29 1926.502(b)(1), the top-rails must be 1 meter (39 inches) to 1.15 meters (45 inches) above the working surface and must be capable of withstanding force of 200 pounds.
In accordance with OSHA CFR 29 1926.502(b)(2)(i), the mid-rails must be provided in the middle of the top-rail and 0.55 meter (21 inches) above the working surface and must be capable of supporting 150 pounds force.
Toe-guard or Toe boards must be provided in accordance with CFR 1926.502(j)(1 to 3). It should not be less than 9 cm from working surface and clearance from surface must not be more than 0.6 cm. It must be able to withstand the force of 50 pounds.

Hazards – Fall prevention guardrails system

The use of degraded material for the guardrail system may not withstand the desired force and workers or the material may fall due to a misconception.
Incompetent people can anchor their personal fall arrest system with guardrails that are not designed to support the load and therefore can fail.
Guardrails system are provided to control hazard such as unprotected roof edges, elevated working platform, working platform on scaffolds, openings/pits/hole in the ground or working surfaces, unprotected edges of newly constructed staircases, excavated area, etc. where there is risk of falls.
Over hanged/ extended guardrails beyond vertical post can create hazard of  punctures, lacerations, snag hazard on workers’ clothing.

How to install guardrails fall prevention system

Plan and organize the work at height through work permit system and the Job Safety Analysis. Fall hazards likes pit, sump, holes on walkways, working platform or on ground surfaces must be immediately protected by providing barriers or guardrail system. Guardrail system can also be provided around the excavated area as a barrier.
All unprotected edges of surfaces where there is risk of fall must be protected with barriers or guardrails with adequate warning signs.
The guardrail system not only be provided at working platform area but must also be provided at the end of the elevated work area including stair landings where person may fall.
Top rails must be installed 42±3 inches above the working surface. Distance shall be considered from the top of the stilts and must be capable to withstand the force of 200 pounds.
The Mid rail must be installed 21 inches above the working surface and between the top rail and working surface and must be capable of withstanding the force of 150 pounds. It should be installed when there are no parapet walls of other similar structure within 21 inches from surface. This can be of screen, wire mesh, intermediate structural members. 
When mesh or screen installed, it must be provided from top rail to the surface of work platform or walkway to cover entire gap to prevent fall of materials on workers underneath or at lower level.
Mid-rail and top rail must be secured with scaffold standard (vertical post) and the space between two adjacent vertical post (standard) should not be more than 2.7 meters.
Additional mid-rails or other architectural panels can be provided to avoid any gap in the guardrails system more than 19 inches wide.
All these screens, mesh, solid panels, intermediate vertical members and other architectural members must be capable to withstand the force of 150 pounds applied downward or outward.
Do not overhang/ extend the guardrails beyond vertical terminal post to prevent projection hazard or  punctures or lacerations hazards to workers. It is for preventing snagging of workers clothing also.
Entire guardrails system must be so strong that it should withstand at least 90 Kg load or 200 pounds force. Do not use plastic banding or steel banding as guardrails.
Before permitting the work at height or near to unprotected edge surfaces, guardrails must be provided by trained peoples with due precautions with personal fall protection system i.e. harness, anchorage and fall arrester.
To prevent cut or lacerations, guardrails (top and mid rails) system should have a thickness or nominal diameter not less than 0.25 inch.
When there is gape of 14 inch or more in between face of the wall and the unprotected edge of elevated working platform or surface then  guardrail system must be installed.
When the wire rope is used as top rails in certain conditions, it must be flagged at interval of not more than 6 feet. High visibility material can be used to flag the wire rope.
To increase visibility and attract attention, caution tape can be wrap on the guardrails.
A guardrails system should be provided to secure unprotected edge area used for hoisting. The hoisting area should be protected by providing at least 1.2 meters guardrails system horizontally at hoisting point. Access opening can be secured with a chain or gate or a removable guardrail during off work time.
When guardrails system is provided to protect holes or pits in the workways, the ground surface or in elevated working platform, it must be installed around all unprotected edges or sides. In the event that a hole or opening is used as access to the lower level or to deliver material to different levels, the removable guardrails section should not have more than two sides. Such hole or opening must be covered or protected from all sides by secured guardrails when not is use.
When guardrails system are used to protect the opening on floor or working surface and being used as access through ladder to different levels, then a drop gate must be provided at the access point and should always be closed to prevent accidentally walking directly into the opening.
When guardrails are used as fall protection barriers on walkways, ramps, crossovers, staircases, etc. then it must be erected on all sides of unprotected area where there is risk of falls.

Personal protective Equipment

While installing or erecting guardrails system, basic PPEs like safety helmet, safety shoes, safety goggles, hand gloves, high visible vest, etc. should be ensured.
Special PPEs like full body safety harness along with anchorage, connectors, lifeline, self-retracting lifeline / lanyard with shock absorber, snap hook and fall protector or rope Grabs should be used.

Toolbox talk interactive Questionnaires on guardrails

1. What is meant by a guardrails system?
2. At what height from the reference level, can a guardrails system be provided to prevent falls?
3. Is the guardrails system to protect or prevent falls?
4. What is meant by ‘Top-rails’ and how much force it be able to withstand?
5. What is meant by edge fall prevention system?
6. Why do you require guardrails?
7. What are the components of the guardrails system?
8. What is meant by mid-rails and what are its functions?
9. What is the purpose of toe-guards or toe-boards?
10. Can Wire rope or nylon rope used as a top rail?
11. How to prevent falls through openings or holes?
12. How to prevent falls from hoisting point?
13. How to prevents falls through ladder access opening to different floor levels?
14.  What would be the strength of the mid-rails?

Working at height is the most dangerous job because it presents a high risk of bodily injury. The fall prevention system  such as guardrails, should be the first priority to eliminate fall hazards. All unprotected edges of elevated work platforms, surfaces, walkways, and holes in floor surfaces, floor openings, lifting/hoist points, stair access points, etc., where there is a risk of falls, must be provided with a guardrails system to prevent falls.

The guardrail system must be of standard material and must meet OSHA requirements for strength and use. The toolbox talk on guardrails fall prevention system increases worker confidence and prevents errors during assembly and installation, and thus helps prevent accidents.

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