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What’s the Difference Between Guardrail & Handrail?

Is handrail technically a guardrail? Is there a difference between grab rail and safety handrail? What’s the difference between handrail and guardrail? 

These are questions we are happy to answer because as the manufacturer of the best Industrial Guardrail and Handrail solutions on the market, we deal with customers that confuse the two just about every single day when asking for quotes. So, we’re here to help. 

Industrial Guardrail and Safety Handrail are similar in nature but serve much different purposes in the workplace safety world. Here’s the differences between the two: 

1. Purpose:

Industrial Guardrail: The primary purpose of an  Industrial Guardrail is to provide protection against material falls or forklift collisions. Guardrails are typically installed along edges of elevated platforms, walkways, machinery, doorways, and any other valuable and/or vulnerable locations inside a warehouse or plant. 

Safety Handrail: Safety handrails, on the other hand, are primarily installed to provide support and stability for individuals as they move along elevated surfaces, stairs, entrances, or areas that are void of forklift traffic. Featuring smaller pipe, handrail is meant to be grasped by individuals for balance, guidance, and support to prevent falls.

Ideal Shield's Heavy Duty Guardrail.

Ideal Shield’s Heavy Duty Guardrail.

2. Design and Construction:

Industrial Guardrail: Here at Ideal Shield, we have one of the most unique and innovative Guardrail styles which features schedule 40 and/or schedule 80 U.S. steel pipe sleeved in HDPE plastic. The design does not require any on site welding while the plastic sleeving eliminates painting needs to keep a bright color to warn forklift operators. We also offer multiple styles of industrial guardrail including more heavy duty options, overhead door protection Goal Posts, and large area Safety Walls to meet your exact protection needs. 

Safety Handrail: We offer two different styles of Safety Handrail including Steel Pipe & Plastic and Aluminum. The Steel Pipe & Plastic Handrail is exactly what the name says; it features 1 1/4″ schedule 40 and schedule 80 pipe sleeved in HDPE plastic and external aluminum magnesium alloy speed fittings. Our Aluminum Handrail is made from 1 1/2″ schedule 40 and schedule 80 clear anodized aluminum pipe with corrosion resistant internal fittings. 

Ideal Shield's Steel Pipe and Plastic Industrial Handrail

Ideal Shield’s Steel Pipe and Plastic Industrial Handrail lining machinery. 

Ideal Shield's Heavy Duty Guardrail being built in the shop.

Ideal Shield’s Heavy Duty Guardrail being built in the shop.

3. Regulatory Compliance:

Industrial Guardrail: Compliance with regulatory standards such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the United States is crucial for industrial guardrails. These standards dictate the height, strength, and placement requirements for guardrails to ensure adequate protection against falls.

Safety Handrail: While safety handrails may also be subject to regulatory standards depending on the industry and jurisdiction, they are generally less regulated than industrial guardrails. However, there are still requirements for ADA and OSHA standards, especially for building entrances or roof top worker fall protection railings

Ideal Shield's Aluminum Handrail at ramp entrance

Ideal Shield’s Aluminum Handrail at ramp entrance

When it comes to protection in the plant, warehouse, or facility, industrial guardrail is the solution. If you’re looking to guide pathways, stairways, or entrances, or protecting workers on rooftops, safety handrail is the correct solution.

For more information on the difference between industrial guardrail and safety handrail, or the options we have here at Ideal Shield, contact our experienced sales team today and get a quick and free quote for your next project!