Don’t Let Your Rails Fail

Sept. 25, 2017

Inspect railings to maximize safety and minimize legal risk.

It’s easy to assume your railings are in good shape until proven wrong, but just like any building material, they can fail – and if someone gets hurt as a result, your organization will be held responsible. Look for these six important elements to make sure your railing can stand the test of time, suggests railing manufacturer Fairway Architectural Railing Solutions.

1) Look into wood alternatives. Wood is easy to work with, but wind, rain and insects can wreak havoc on it. Consider metal, composite or vinyl instead – all three stand up much better to bad weather and are less prone to rotting.

2) Prevent rust and corrosion. Exposure to the elements leads to oxidation and rust, the most common type of damage for metal railings. Stop corrosion, rust and damage before they happen by applying a high-quality powder coating.

3) Use quality fasteners. Nails, screws and anchors can rust or corrode, and if they’re installed in wood railings, their deterioration will eventually damage the wood as well. Use stainless steel fasteners instead and securely tighten them to keep the railings from sagging or swaying.

4) Consider a second handrail. Depending on your local code, you may be required to install this already. However, even if it’s not mandated in your area, think about putting in a second stair handrail anyway – it makes the stairs much safer, which translates into less risk for your organization.

5) Check in on lighting and electrical elements. If anyone will use your railing during nighttime hours, keep an eye on the lighting to make sure everything remains functional and clean it periodically to make sure the maximum amount of light escapes the light source. Make sure there are no plants or tree branches obscuring the lighting. While you’re inspecting that, also check electrical outlets to make sure they’re up to code and childproof if necessary.

6) Look for certification. Installing a new railing or inspecting the old one? Check to make sure the railing you use has been tested for load level, applied load, elapsed time and displacement by a credible third-party organization. 

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