It’s time to pick up on a topic – unsafe guardrails – that I first wrote about back in January: Hanging on with your nails!
I said then, “Recently, it’s become apparent to me that many in the home building and renovation industry don’t know how to build guard rails correctly. This might be due to lack of training, poor supervision, or simply an attempt to speed up construction.”
Most guardrails I’ve viewed around the Toronto area recently are are not in compliance with current laws – and they will surely be tested once someone dares to lean on them and is either seriously injured or killed in a fall. Do your due diligence on guardrails and become compliant now before someone gets seriously injured on your work site. Remember, everyone has a part to play on job site safety through the IRS system (Internal Reporting System) that’s supposed to be a key part of every company’s Policies & Procedures document. Read: Little Black Box.
If a guardrail collapses on your jobsite, resulting in a critical injury or death, the Ministry of Labour will immediately investigate your operations, find fault and prosecute those found guilty of contravening the Health & Safety Act (in Ontario, for example, or your local provincial equivalent).
Every construction and renovation employer should have in their possession a copy of their province’s Occupational Health and Safety Acts and WHMIS regulation booklet. It should be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace, so it can be read by any of those who choose to do so.
Unfortunately, some of these rule books are not always easy to read. But specifications for guardrails are pretty specific and clear. In Ontario, a Guardrail System should consist of a top rail, an intermediate rail and a toe board. In every case I viewed this year, I have never seen a toe board. This may seem a minor item, but it’s a huge item and the reason is: as you move forward, normally your toe will hit this first, alarming you and hopefully stopping you in your tracks, before you ever reach the top rail!
If you have to remove any part of a guardrail system temporarily to perform work in or around the opening, you can as long as a worker is adequately protected and signs are posted in accordance with subsections 44 (1) and (2). O. Reg. 145/00, s. 14.
CARAHS is a non profit association for renovators and home services providers. We offer education, information and benefits.
CARAHS offers over 90 Health and Safety e-courses online here.
Toll free 1-866-366-2930 www.carahs.org