April 24, 2014
When a guardrail has balusters instead of a midrail, what is maximum allowed spacing between the balusters?
Oregon OSHA's construction fall protection requirements for guardrail systems [1926.502(b)] state that intermediate members (such as balusters), when used between posts, must not be more than 19 inches apart. Other structural members of a guardrail system, such as additional midrails and architectural panels, must also be installed so that there are no openings in the guardrail system more than 19 inches apart.
The 19-inch requirement also comes up in the fall protection requirements for scaffolds [1926.451(g)(4)(vi)]: “When intermediate members (such as balusters or additional rails) are used, they shall not be more than 19 inches apart.” OSHA addressed a similar question in one of its standards interpretations about the spacing between guardrails on an industrial truck work platform.
Keep in mind that openings in walls or partitions through which people could fall must be guarded if they are 30 (or more) inches high and 18 (or more) inches wide.
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