Guardrails can be expensive, there's no doubt about it, but many of us fail to add up the benefits. I know it may seem easier to buy a couple of buckets of safety and slap some harnesses on your workers, but we can do better than that. Find the hidden value of guardrails before you get guardrail sticker shock.
Did you know that OSHA would prefer you install guardrails instead of doling out harnesses and lanyards? It's true. Easy for them to say right? Of course, it is. They've got nothing better to do than fine you and make up new rules. (Just wait until you hear their new policies on workplace refrigerator usage and deadly leftovers)
Regardless of what OSHA says there are two great reasons to go all guardrail on their asses.
First, a guardrail will last way longer than harnesses, lanyards, and anchors. In fact, most people don't even replace this equipment when they should. Hell, a good guardrail set could last your entire career. The cost seems high up front, but if you multiply that cost over 30 years. It's pretty cheap. For example. Let's say you've got a crew of 4 guys for 30 years that you need to outfit with fall protection. So you get a bucket of safety for each of them. Odds are pretty good that if you're working consistently you'll burn through those kits in about 2 years (if not sooner). Two years later you buy 4 more kits. For thirty years, that's 15 kits per worker at about $150 a pop. 4 workers with 15 kits each... That's $9,000! 60 ft. of guardrail would cost you about $2,000. Did I also mention that with guardrails you could protect 6, 7, 10 workers at once? Cost wise it's a no-brainer.
Now, I don't know your crew... but do you really trust them to properly wear and use fall protection every day? Guardrails require absolutely no training. Just set the damn things up. That seems convenient to me.
Hopefully, you'll think about this the next time you're considering guardrails for your company. There will always be situations where fall protection is necessary, but if you can prevent a fall by eliminating the hazard with guardrails... you should. That being said, we know the price of guardrails can be frightening so we've drop the prices on our guardrails. Think about it. Do any of you guys use guardrails for fall prevention?