Guard rails for retaining walls,swimming pool xiamen,pergola joinery - 2016 Feature

11.07.2015
Hercules Custom Iron is able to offer a wide range of steel and aluminum railing options for both residential and commercial projects. This article describes the requirement for guard railings along the top of many retaining walls. This article series describes types of privacy walls, retaining walls and retaining wall guard railing requirements, guard railing construction and building codes, and critical safe-construction details for retaining wall guardrails.
Our photo at left illustrates a tall cantilevered-design reinforced concrete retaining wall built of reinforced concrete with a suitable guard railing along the wall top (a parking lot). Details about guard railing designs, codes & requirements for use at retaining walls are here at RETAINING WALL GUARDRAIL CODES.
As detailed in Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction: The International Residential Code (IRC) requires a minimum 36-inch-high guardrail for all decks, balconies, or screened enclosures more than 30 inches off the ground.
For child safety, the balusters or other decorative infill must be spaced less than 4 inches apart (a 4-inch-diameter ball should not pass between the balusters). Some communities allow horizontal steel cables as guard railings at the top of retaining walls, as we discuss below. At above left we illustrate a wooden retaining wall that appears to have been constructed from recycled railroad ties and without anchoring extensions behind the wall. At left we illustrate more versions of inadequate or unsafe guardrailings, first at a retaining wall and second in a shopping center, but using a cable design that some communities approve for use along the top of retaining walls as well.
This retaining wall guard rail is a child hazard because of its large openings and horizontal cross members, one of which had fallen away at the time of our inspection. This retaining wall also has a surcharge from vehicles that park nosed right up to about 12" from the wall edge.
But the stones were so massive and so well drained that in our OPINION the surcharge from vehicles, snow, and frost, would not threaten this wall structure. Our guardrail photos (below) show an attractive railing with horizontal cables intended to permit a nice view of the Brooklyn NY skyline. We also demonstrate how easily the cables can be separated as well as how attractive this guard railing is to children. I have certainly seen a number of high decks (not quite your case) that had continuous seating at the perimeter and no other railings. A concern might be that even though the seating can prevent someone from stumbling and falling off of the raised area, it would not stop a child from climbing right over - unless there were seat backs were high enough and made of vertical balusters rather than the typical horizontal materials. Our photo (above left) of a high retaining wall without a guard railing (left) illustrates an approach using dense shrubbery as a safety barrier at a property in New York State.
Typical building codes including local code interpretations that address the question of need for safety railings near high retaining walls give some latitude to the local building inspector.
Retaining walls more than 1220 mm high are required to have safety cable railing installed as required by Cal-OSHA regulations, Title 8, Section 1621, as well as the Department's Highway Design Manual Section 210.5. Also see CODES for STAIRS & RAILINGS where we provide additional detail on railing requirements for stairs, landings, balconies, etc.
I have a landscape retaining wall, not connected to a building (an accessory structure U), that forms a level area of about 250+ square feet. The exposed height of a retaining wall is the height of the vertical grade difference between the upper ground level and the lower ground level that are to be separated by the retaining wall. Folsom explains that including the 12-inch thick footing in measuring the wall and considering that the footing itself is buried, a a cantilever design retaining wall that has a total height of four feet (the UBC code requirement for a permit) actually has just three feet of exposed retaining wall height. This specification on the requiring of a building permit for retaining walls is common in most jurisdictions though some municipalities require a permit for lower walls over just 24". Your retaining wall is over ten feet in height, and most likely over nine feet in exposed wall height.
As you're located in California you will want to check California building code requirements as well as any local community additions or modifications to the California code pertaining to guard railings at retaining walls and similar elevated locations, independent of building stairs landings and railings and guardrailings on those structures. In examples cited earlier in this article, in some communities guard railings are required at retaining walls as low as 2.5 feet above the lower level. Exceptions to stair and railing standard code requirements are often allowed for areas not publicly accessed such as maintenance lofts in commercial buildings. There are safety concerns at any retaining wall such as lawn mowers rolling over the retaining wall or pedestrian falls.
You'll also notice that some communities allow simplified guard railings along retaining walls, using cables in place of (safer) vertical balusters spaced 4" on center. I was on a lawn mower cutting grass on top of a 4' retaining wall with a straight drop off to a parking lot on a nursing home property.


My daughter was pushed off a 43” above the lower surface of a retaining wall with a 5” lip at the top that retains a grass hill at her school that had no railing, and kids were allowed to play in the area and several were thrown off this wall by a bully.
In the photos that you sent we see a nearby building you report as a school, a masonry retaining wall, no guard rail visible in the right hand photo, and a down-slope approach to the wall that in my OPINION invites a falling hazard to children playing in the area, bullying or not. Generally the requirement for guardrailings along the top edge of retaining walls are not clearly spelled out in most building codes though they do make appearance in some of the model codes. Where retaining walls with differences in grade level on either side of the wall in excess of 4 feet (1219 mm) are located closer than 2 feet (610mm) to a walk, path, parking lot or driveway on the high side, such retaining walls shall be provided with guards that are constructed in accordance with Section 1021.0 or other approved protective measures.
My OPINION is that the code writers were anticipating locations where people are likely to walk.
At least currently, the Salt Lake City code requires a building permit for retaining walls that are over two feet in height. Provo Utah requires permits for retaining walls that are four feet or more in height - another example of inconsistency with Salt Lake City but in fact the Provo code is consistent with the Utah state building code section 1806 and other paragraphs.
Some local Utah codes (Highland City UT) discuss guardrails in more detail but we see that the discussion requiring guardrailings focuses on decks, stairs, balconies. Typically where guardrails are required, they are specified for decks (for example) that are 30" or more above ground level. In sum, the requirement that the builder obtain a building permit for these taller retaining walls does not mean that the building official will require that a guardrail be installed. Please note that although specifications for guard railings are described, the following model code citations do not explicitly address guardrailings along retaining walls retaining walls. Our photo (left) illustrates modular blocks commonly used in segmental gravity wall retaining walls. Two example CA code citations for retaining wall safety protection are included below; the first, as you'll see, is from workplace requirements but it illustrates some of the safety concerns with falls at outdoor retaining walls. Where overhead clearance prohibits installation of a 42-inch guardrail, a lower rail or rails shall be installed. Continue reading at DECK & PORCH GUARDRAILINGS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below. Or see GUARDRAILS on BALCONIES, DECKS, LANDINGS for codes & specifications for guard raillings such as used on balconies, decks, stairs, and landings. The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. We can create handrails for almost any need and focus on specialty railing including guardrails, safety rails and retaining wall rail. But this design does not provide child safety protection nor protection for someone walking in or working in that inner space (having stepped over the seat wall). Safety railings may be required for any retaining wall two and one-half (2.5) feet or higher. And of course since most lots are not dead level, you'll use the highest vertical grade difference to describe your retaining wall. However the requirement of a building permit does not mean that a the building official will require a guardrail along the wall top.
Therefore you will surely have to comply with guardrail and stair railing requirements that may be set by your local building inspector. The property owner placed pots to help mark the wall edge but no guard railings were installed. Most likely, for a retaining wall that is four feet tall or higher in California, or three feet in height depending on the retaining wall surcharge we defined above, you'll be required to obtain a building permit and local code officials will inspect for code compliance the retaining wall as well as its safety guard railings and access stairs. And earlier in this article you'll see our photograph of kids climbing on [and later] between flexible horizontal cables in a guard railing in a shopping center. The school has recently installed a safety rail on this wall and since no other children have been injured.
We'd hope that the city will require a guardrail on such walls where public access is anticipated.
However many architects, engineers, and some code officials will recommend the installation of guardrails on retaining walls where public access is likely.
Guards shall be located along open-sided walking surfaces, including mezzanines, equipment platforms, stairs, ramps and landings that are located more than 30 inches (762 mm) measured vertically to the floor or grade below at any point within 36 inches (914 mm) horizontally to the edge of the open side. On the audience side of stages and raised platforms, including steps leading up to the stage and raised platforms.


On raised stage and platform floor areas, such as runways, ramps and side stages used for entertainment or presentations.
At elevated walking surfaces appurtenant to stages and platforms for access to and utilization of special lighting or equipment.
In assembly seating where guards in accordance with Section 1028.14 are permitted and provided. Where glass is used to provide a guard or as a portion of the guard system, the guard shall also comply with Section 2407. Required guards shall be not less than 42 inches (1067 mm) high, measured vertically above the adjacent walking surfaces, adjacent fixed seating or the line connecting the leading edges of the treads. For occupancies in Group R-3, and within individual dwelling units in occupancies in Group R-2, guards on the open sides of stairs shall have a height not less than 34 inches (864 mm) measured vertically from a line connecting the leading edges of the treads. For occupancies in Group R-3, and within individual dwelling units in occupancies in Group R-2, where the top of the guard also serves as a handrail on the open sides of stairs, the top of the guard shall not be less than 34 inches (864 mm) and not more than 38 inches (965 mm) measured vertically from a line connecting the leading edges of the treads.
Along alternating tread devices and ship ladders, guards whose top rail also serves as a handrail, shall have height not less than 30 inches (762 mm) and not more than 34 inches (864 mm), measured vertically from the leading edge of the device tread nosing.
Required guards shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere 4 inches (102 mm) in diameter from the walking surface to the required guard height.
The triangular openings at the open sides of a stair, formed by the riser, tread and bottom rail shall not allow passage of a sphere 6 inches (152 mm) in diameter.
At elevated walking surfaces for access to and use of electrical, mechanical or plumbing systems or equipment, guards shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere 21 inches (533 mm) in diameter. In areas that are not open to the public within occupancies in Group I-3, F, H or S, and for alternating tread devices and ship ladders, guards shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere 21 inches (533 mm) in diameter. In assembly seating areas, guards at the end of aisles where they terminate at a fascia of boxes, balconies and galleries shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere 4 inches in diameter (102 mm) up to a height of 26 inches (660 mm). Porches and decks which are enclosed with insect screening shall be provided with guards where the walking surface is located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade below. Guards shall be provided where appliances, equipment, fans, roof hatch openings or other components that require service are located within 10 feet (3048 mm) of a roof edge or open side of a walking surface and such edge or open side is located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor, roof or grade below. Guards shall be provided where the roof hatch opening is located within 10 feet (3048 mm) of a roof edge or open side of a walking surface and such edge or open side is located more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor, roof or grade below. The unprotected sides of elevated work locations that are not buildings or building structures where an employee is exposed to a fall of 4 feet or more shall be provided with guardrails.
The railing shall be provided with a toe board where the platform, runway, or ramp is 6 feet or more above places where employees normally work or pass and the lack of a toeboard could create a hazard from falling tools, material, or equipment. However for a hand railing on stairs, both flat and vertical 2x lumber are unsafe and violate good stair railing design because they cannot be grasped during a fall.
The decision to require safety railing shall be based on specific site conditions, potential pedestrian and public access to the retaining wall, and applicable building codes." - City of Bella Vista, AR subdivision code. Where the glazing provided does not meet the strength and attachment requirements of Section 1607.7, complying guards shall also be located along glazed sides of open-sided walking surfaces.
From a height of 26 inches to 42 inches (660 mm to 1067 mm) above the adjacent walking surfaces, guards shall not have openings which allow passage of a sphere 8 inches (203 mm) in diameter.
The guard shall be constructed so as to prevent the passage of a sphere 21 inches (533 mm) in diameter. Our in-house powder coating process ensures a lasting finish that will look great for many years. The guard shall extend not less than 30 inches (762 mm) beyond each end of such appliance, equipment, fan or component. Browse through our many signature projects below, then Contact Us today for your free estimate on the aluminum fencing you are looking for!
Please browse through some of our signature projects, and then Contact Us today to find out how we can help you complete your next custom railing project! Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home.




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