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.
Many people believe that fabricated handrails 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 safety barrier systems.
Designing a fabricated handrail 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 also requires 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 structure 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.
Handrails made from fittings
An alternative to fabricating handrail and guardrail systems is to construct them with tubular 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 or skilled labour.
Fittings tend to be hot dip galvanised iron castings so systems constructed from modular fittings are more resilient to corrosion, in some cases lasting up to 7 times longer than fabricated ones. In more harsh environments Aluminium fittings will provide a high level of corrosion resistance.
The flexible handrail solution
Fittings have proven their longevity and resistance to the harsh environments at many locations all over the world for many years, e.g. at SWWC Sea Desalination Water Plant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Click here to see our video showing why modular fittings offer at better solution than fabricated structures - Fittings vs. Fabrication