What’s the difference between guardrails and handrails? Falls from high surfaces are the leading cause of injury or death in many industries. Without safety barriers, those working at the height of six or more feet are defenseless against a fall. While guardrails and handrails both perform as fall protection, the building code requirements and definition vary between the two. They’ll help make your guests, family members, or employees feel safer and more comfortable! In this blog, we’ll look at some of their similarities and differences.
What is a Handrail?
Handrails are the railing used for support that you’ll see going down a ramp or flight of stairs. They’re essential for homes and businesses as they promote safe movement for those who have trouble walking, have a disability, or need assistance when going down a steep walkway. They are intended for someone to grasp onto for guidance while climbing up and down stairs or ramps. A common mistake people make is that they forget to make them easily graspable when they install them. All handrails need to be at least 1.5 inches away from the wall, making it possible to wrap your fingers around the railing and grip it tightly in case you lose your balance. Handrails are necessary for stairways that have more than three steps or rise more than 6 inches. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that the supporting handhold must provide a continuous graspable, smooth surface.
What is a Guardrail?
The difference between the two is that a guardrail is a vertical barrier to protect people from falling off an elevated surface. They’re considered a life-saving device, and you’ll find them on balconies, decks, platforms, scaffolding, roof spaces, elevated walkways, and many other places. The minimum height requirement for public or commercial buildings is 42 inches above the stairs and 36 inches for residential homes. They’re subjected to testing such as concentrated load tests to ensure that they can withstand the force of someone falling or getting pushed against them. In addition, when placed along stairs or a ramp, building codes require a secondary handrail along with it. You’ll find an example of this in the image below, where the guardrail is the glass piece, and the handrail is the metal piece.
OSHA Strength Requirements
Handrails: The handrail must withstand a force of at least 200 pounds when applied in any outward or downward direction. The pressure can be applied within two inches of any point along the top edge of the handrail.
Guardrails: A guardrail must withstand a force of at least 200 pounds when applied in any outward or downward direction. The pressure can be applied within two inches of any point along the top edge of the guardrail. The railing must not bend to a height less than 39 inches.
Access Gates & Doors
Now that you know the difference between guardrails and handrails, we hope you can make an informed purchase for your home or business! When you want to promote safe movement or prevent people from falling and injuring themself, these railings are great safety precautions. If you want to find a team of commercial and residential experts in Los Angeles or San Diego, give Access Gates & Doors a call! We can help answer any of your questions and even provide you with a free quote for your project. If you’re in Los Angeles, call (323) 244-2473, and for San Diego, call (858) 365-9480. You can also reach us by filling out the form on our website!