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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

In accordance with the hierarchy of fall protection set forth by ANSI, employers should always first look to completely eliminate a fall hazard. If eliminating a fall hazard is not possible, then the next best solution is to install a passive system, such as a guardrail. Guardrails are available in a number of different options such as portable weighted systems and permanently mounted products. Additionally, guardrails can be provided in powder coated steel, galvanized steel, aluminum and stainless steel. With numerous guardrail options now available on the market, end users can easily purchase an ‘off-the-shelf’ product that meets their needs without having to make a custom order.

Further down that same list come fall restraint, fall arrest, and safety monitoring systems; however, all of these options are less than ideal and should be avoided if possible as accidents are likely to occur. Perhaps the worst option available is safety monitoring as it relies too heavily on the full attention of the safety monitor and, over a long period of time, will likely result in an accident (as people are prone to making mistakes). Fall arrest is less than ideal because it allows workers to experience a fall event which can cause injury and requires prompt rescue that would put other workers in danger. While fall restraint is the perhaps best choice among these three options, it again relies too heavily on an average worker. Just one mistake while using a fall restraint system has the potential to result in a fall arrest event.

Typically, on most commercial rooftops, complete perimeter guardrail protection is the best solution for long term worker safety and maintenance. The main reasons for guardrails being superior are as follows:

  1. Safety: A passive system is protecting a worker at all times
  2. Training: No fall protection training is required
  3. Maintenance: Guardrails require minimal routine maintenance
  4. Durability: Guardrails should last as long as the building to which they are attached
  5. Simplicity: There is nothing easier than a fall protection plan that states that, “All areas have passive guardrail systems”

When utilizing a passive guardrail system, workers are always protected. Other than stepping through a guardrail, mistakes cannot be made.