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Common Safety Barrier Installation Mistakes

5 November 2019

Our General Manager, Christian King recently discussed the following common mistakes we come across when contractors install our safety barrier, handrail or guardrail systems as part of a feature in Total Contractor Magazine

Not following the design calculation which provides the compliant upright tube specification, correct spacing between uprights, the required anchor embedment to achieve the required design load

Correct planning is essential otherwise the barrier won’t achieve what it’s being designed to do, which is to protect people from hazards.  Building Regulations and BS6180 required barriers, handrails and guardrails to meet minimum height requirements and be able to withstand various forms of load.  For example, pedestrian handrails need to be designed to achieve 740 Nm design load.  If the system isn’t designed correctly then it won't be to able to withstand the required loading.  Correct design calculations will also help to save money as you’ll be able to calculate the spacings accurately.  We often find that systems are installed to what a company thinks is the safest specification, but in fact they have over compensated on the spacing between uprights, which means the railing system has cost more.

Don’t assume you know how to install the systems correctly and to a compliant standard

Safety barrier systems can be installed quickly and easily using fittings such as Kee Klamp®, but you still need to know what you’re doing.  Common mistakes can often found on stairs or ramps where the handrail may be below the required 900 – 1100mm height or it has just been installed on one side of the stait or ramp instead of both sides as required.  Where there is a drop off, and a curb or curb rail has been omitted to prevent wheelchairs from slipping out from under the railing, a mid rail will often provide sufficient protection.

Wrong fixing detail used

We have seen cases where a base flange has been fixed to brickwork with non-suitable anchors or not cored, or where wall fixings have been used as base flanges.  It won’t be long before these safety railings or handrails start to become unstable and either wobble or work loose from the brickwork or substrate it’s fixed to, making the system non-compliant and potentially a hazard.  When fixing a pedestrian handrail to brickwork we’d recommend using a 78mm diameter diamond core rill, 250mm deep for each upright and then resin fix the uprights into position to achieve the required strength and durability.

Poorly installed handrail

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Trying to save money by installing a galvanised DDA compliant system and then painting it instead of having it powder-coated

Painted systems will scratch or flake within weeks if not days.  Polyester powder coating the tube and components will provide a finish that’s chip, scratch and fade resistant and will also comply with the requirements of the Equality Act by providing a finish that’s not cold to the touch.    

And Finally

The benefit of using tube and fittings is that if a system is incorrect, it may simply be a  case of adjusting it or replacing a section, which you can’t do with fabricated systems.  However in all cases we’d say that if you are going to install a handrail, guardrail or safety barrier using components, always speak to a company that understands the complexities of installing these systems first to make sure that what you are proposing is correct.

If you're installing a safety barrier, or think your system may not be installed correctly, call us on Tel: 020 8874 6566 for technical advice or to arrange to have your system inspected and tested.

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Poorly installed handrails

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