Rail Compliance Doesn’t Have To Be Complex

Looking at OSHA guardrail requirements and IBC guardrail requirements can make you dizzy enough that you need some railing to hold on to. Fortunately, Bedford has you covered with ReadyRail pre-engineered guardrail and handrail solutions. We constantly keep tabs on safety requirements and make sure our products meet them, so you can rest assured that all ReadyRail solutions are fully OSHA- and IBC-compliant. It’s our way of protecting both your workers and your business.

Understanding the Guidelines

It’s not easy! While building codes and OSHA requirements contain specific facts, they aren’t always written in easy-to-understand language. There are minimums and maximums for heights, finger clearance, openings, outward force and more, and it can all sound quite complicated. For instance, when trying to determine the number of posts you’ll need for your railing system, OSHA requires “no more than 6' between posts and 24" on center between posts and corners,” and IBC requires “railing spacing at 50#/ft with 2X safety factor.” Whether you’re into math or not, you can take any guesswork away by simply using ReadyRail OSHA- and IBC-compliant guardrail and handrail solutions.

To better understand the guidelines, it also helps to understand the difference between a guardrail and a handrail. Many people think the terms are interchangeable, but when it comes to worker safety requirements, they have distinct meanings:

  • A guardrail is a railing used to prevent a fall from an elevated surface, such as a platform or mezzanine. It’s viewed as a life-saving safety rail, and it must be strong enough to withstand the force of someone falling against it.
  • A handrail is used for support when going up or down a stairway or ramp. Though not considered a life-saving element, a handrail is still an important safety component and has specific requirements for height, grip-ability and more.  

It’s also important to remember that whether you’re installing a guardrail, handrail or both, the railing system includes the posts that the rails are mounted on and a “return,” which is the end of the railing or a turn. And — you guessed it — there are specific OSHA and IBC requirements for those elements as well. For instance, there are two primary types of returns. A stub return is open-ended and is usually used against a wall. OSHA has a 12" max on center requirement for stub returns. A vertical return is sealed at the end so that none of the railing protrudes out, and OSHA requires an 18" max on center for these.

Again, we’ve taken away compliance worries with ReadyRail. From IBC handrail requirements to OSHA guardrail guidelines, everything is covered so that your ReadyRail system is fully OSHA- and IBC-compliant. We’ve even put together a handy worksheet to help you rough out your railing needs without any compliance concerns.

Additional Safety Features

Beyond all the specs and measurements, the ReadyRail system offers still more safety elements. All materials come in standard safety yellow that’s integrally pigmented throughout the components, so it can’t fade or get scratched away over time. All materials also include UV inhibitors and fire-retardant resins.

Unlike metal railings, ReadyRail FRP components won’t conduct electricity, helping to reduce the risk of shock. They also have low thermal conductivity, reducing expansion and contraction so your guardrail and handrail remain stable.

Of course, you also get all of the durability that Bedford FRP is known for. ReadyRail FRP handrail and FRP guardrail solutions won’t shrink or rot like wood and won’t rust or corrode like metal. You’ll get years of worry-free performance.

Ideal for Every Application

Because ReadyRail guardrail and handrail systems are resistant to heat, high winds, rain, snow, saltwater and chemicals, they’re in use in a wide range of applications around the world. They can handle the constant activity in distribution facilities and warehouses. They can handle the harsh weather conditions of offshore, desert and arctic drilling platforms. They can handle the working conditions of fertilizer and chemical facilities. From the heights of cooling towers to the churning conditions of wastewater plants, you can count on ReadyRail components to provide decades of safety. 

Installation is simplified, too. ReadyRail guardrail and handrail solutions provide the strength of steel at a fraction of the weight, so the components are much easier to move around the jobsite — and since guardrails are often installed at great heights, that makes a huge difference. All components bolt together easily using ordinary tools, so you won’t have to worry about lugging welding equipment or hiring installers with specialized tools. ReadyRail keeps it simple. Getting your materials is simple, too. You can order in 3' sections, or you can simply specify the length of your railing run and we’ll package up all the components into a handy kit. The worksheet will guide you through it, and our knowledgeable staff is always happy to help. ReadyRail materials also work seamlessly with ReadyPlatform and ReadyStair components to help you meet any configuration need.

ReadyRail FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions to help ensure you install your ReadyRail guardrail and handrail system with confidence.

At what height are guardrails required?

OSHA uses 42" as the standard reference. Under 1910.23(e)(1), OSHA says that a guardrail must have a vertical height of 42" nominal from the upper surface of the top rail to floor, platform, runway, or ramp level. Standard Directive 1-1.10 says existing guardrails must consist of a top rail, intermediate rail and posts, or equivalent, and have a minimum vertical height of 36" to 44". Because ReadyRail solutions are OSHA- and IBC-compliant, we’ve taken every requirement into account for you.

What is the OSHA standard for handrails and guardrails?

A stair with four or more risers requires a handrail. OSHA requires that rails be between 36" and 38" from the platform or stair tread to the top surface of the handrail. If there is a drop of more than 48", a guardrail is required at a minimum height of 42". The surface of the rail must be smooth to prevent clothing from being snagged and to prevent injuries. Visit the OSHA website for complete details. All ReadyRail FRP handrail and FRP guardrail solutions are OSHA- and IBC-compliant.

How much outward force must a handrail or guardrail resist to be OSHA-compliant?

To ensure worker safety and structural integrity, rails must be capable of withstanding a force of at least 200 pounds applied within 2" of the top edge, in any downward or outward direction, at any point along the top edge. Again, ReadyRail materials meet all requirements.

What are OSHA regulations on space between handrails and guardrails for an elevated walkway?

For fall hazards over 48", the top rail of the guardrail should be at a minimum height of 42" and a maximum of 45" above the walking surface. In-fill panels, or mid-rails, must be installed so that no opening is greater than 19". Our knowledgeable staff will work with you to ensure that your ReadyRail guardrail and handrail system is OSHA- and IBC-compliant.

Here to Help Our expert team has decades of real-world experience in industrial safety applications and a deep understanding of OSHA and IBC guardrail and handrail requirements. Let us help you get the safety solution you need. You can request a quote, reach out with questions or call 814-623-8125 to talk with a Bedford FRP expert.