By Christian King, General Manager, Kee Systems Ltd
Handrail and guardrail systems play a vital role in providing a safe barrier between people and hazards, so it’s essential that you can guarantee the performance of the system at all times and that its integrity is maintained many years after installation.
But when it comes to constructing a barrier systems, what is the best method, fabrication or fittings?
There is a view that fabricated systems offer greater strength and stability and are quick to install as they’re fabricated off site and then simply lifted into place. While fabricating off site may be a faster solution for other forms of construction, it’s not the case when it comes to barrier systems.
Designing a fabricated system is not a quick process. Firstly, a detailed site survey is required before drawings can be prepared. Once the design is finalised, sections are then fabricated off site before the system can be installed on site by a skilled worker. Installation on site will also require welding which in in turn leads to a number of health and safety implications, for example special work permits will be required for on-site welding.
Fabrication does not guarantee strength and stability. Fabricating a system involves cutting which breaches the metal’s anti-corrosion properties, this is further compromised by the on-site welding. Corrosion properties can be restored by applying zinc rich paint but this has to be applied meticulously otherwise it could merely offer protection to the external welded area only. The tube could still be unprotected internally which will lead to corrosion over time. The problem here is that the corrosion won’t be evident until it is too late which could mean the barrier breaks or collapses when it is supposed to be offering protection at a critical moment.
If a fabricated system is found to be faulty, then damaged sections will need to be cut out and a new section welded. The new section will then need to be prefabricated off site and then transported to the location.
The Fitting Answer
An alternative to fabricating handrail and guardrail systems is to construct them with fittings. Fittings offer a more flexible and quicker solution. There’s no need for detailed site surveys, a simple layout drawing showing where to place the uprights is all that’s required before construction of the barrier can begin. In addition, systems are easy to install and require no special work permits.
Fittings tend to be hot dip galvanised iron castings so systems constructed from fittings are more resilient to corrosion, in some cases lasting up to 7 times longer than fabricated ones.
The Sensible Solution
Fittings have proven their longevity and resistance to the elements at locations all over the world for many years. In fact a handrailing system constructed from fittings was installed at Niagara Falls in the 1950s, and despite being subjected to daily water spray and seasonal freezing, it’s as strong today as it was when first installed.
While fabrication does offer a means of providing handrailing and guardrailing systems, fittings are undoubtedly quicker and easier to install. They also offer the highest level of safety and provide the best value for money.
Click here to see our video show why fittings offer at better solution than fabrication – Fittings v Fabrications
Thu, 02/11/2016 – 17:43
Blog by Kee Systems explaining why fittings are better than fabrication for constructing barrier systems
Why fittings are better than fabrication for barrier systems