Where in the workplace are handrails required?

The importance of Pedestrian Handrail Systems in the workplace can often be overlooked. However, besides being an essential part of customer safety, they are also a legal requirement. We will run through when and where handrails are required.

Slips, trips and falls are most likely to occur where there are potential trip hazards, slippery surfaces, or inefficient lighting. Safety Barriers & Guardrails are crucial to any working environment, but especially in high-risk environments, as other hazards may increase the chances of serious injury.

For example, whenever workers are expected to complete any activity at a height, handrails are required by law as part of the Working at Height Regulations (WAHR – 2005) and need to meet particular specifications in order to be permissible.

In a warehouse or factory environment, additional dangers such as sharp edges on moveable machinery, or risk of impact from forklifts or trucks, escalates the need for handrails. In this instance, pedestrians need to be separated from traffic to ensure that no one is hurt.

When you’re evaluating the best places to install handrails in your workplace, it’s important to take into consideration the legal requirements.

What are the legal requirements for handrails?

Below, we have listed where UK Legislation requires employers to install handrails around:

According to the law, any platform, walkway or landing higher than 0.5m must have a guardrail to prevent falls of both people and equipment. Guardrails must have a top rail, (at a minimum height of 42 inches above the floor,) an intermediate rail, (assembled so that you cannot pass a 21-inch-diameter sphere through any gaps,) and posts.

Additionally, the whole guardrail must be able to resist the force of a concentrated live load of 200 pounds or a distributed live load of 20 pounds per foot. Brandsafe’s Guardrail Systems (MHE / PIT) are a good example of these specifications in action.

Handrails on staircases

Within the UK legal regulations, the number of handrails required depends on the width of the staircase. For staircases over 1000mm wide, you need a handrail on both sides of the stairs, and for staircases, over 2m a divide is required.

If handrails are mounted to the wall, separate regulations apply. Wall-mounted handrails are required to be 50 to 75mm off the wall, need to have a diameter of between 32mm and 50mm and be non-slip.

Best practices for safety

Best Practice:

Regardless of legal requirements, there are also areas in the workplace where handrails are necessary to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. We would advise that you assess the following areas in the working environment to determine whether a simple handrail could prevent an injury:

  • Pedestrian walkways that come into contact with moving vehicles. Pedestrian Safety Barriers (SEG+) prevent pedestrians from crossing the path of moving vehicles. This reduces the risk of impact or injury from heavy moving machinery, forklifts and trucks.
  • Around dangerous machinery. This can prevent cuts or grazes caused by sharp edges and moving parts.
  • To zone off restricted areas on the factory or warehouse floor. This keeps visitors or untrained workers from entering restricted areas and endangering themselves. This can be especially useful in areas where harmful chemicals are being used or stored
  • In car parks and in front of main entrances. Barriers or bollards, like the ImpactSAFE Protection Post, prevent vehicles from rolling and endangering the general public, as well as your valued workers. Brandsafe’s Sign Post WRAP Protectors can also be used to prevent any damage to your vehicle in the event of an impact.

Health and Safety in the workplace is an important part of morale and trust between workers and their employers. By installing barriers that meet industry standards you can protect your workers from easily preventable falls or injuries. We recommend checking that your handrail systems are up to industry standards as soon as possible to ensure the best possible working conditions, and to meet all legal requirements.

The top industrial safety products for your business

Looking for a safety product checklist for your business? This article will highlight the most important industrial safety products (also known as control equipment) that you need in a warehouse environment. 

Industrial safety products help to ensure the wellbeing of your employees by providing protection from potential work hazards and preventing accidents. Whether that’s traffic safety & management, or protecting staff and visitors from hazardous chemicals.

The most common industrial hazards are caused by; manual handling, chemicals, machinery, working at heights and driving movable machinery. Use the checklist below to ensure you are taking every precaution necessary to keep your workplace a safe environment.

The top industrial safety products

Control equipment, (or industrial safety products,) are an essential part of employee safety and wellbeing in a warehouse environment. When implemented properly, it should be used in conjunction with controlling procedures, (such as supervision and maintenance,) and correct worker behaviours (ensuring workers follow the procedures).

Proper control equipment takes on many forms and is dependent on what types of health hazards exist in your working environment. It can include improving pedestrian safety or providing racking protection.

Here are our recommendations of the most important industrial safety products, depending on the scenario:

Manual handling

Manual handling accidents often happen when a worker is attempting to manoeuvre a heavier or larger object than they can realistically manage. Providing equipment to assist manual handling can prevent workers from attempting to move an object in an unsafe way.

Manual handling aids like sack trucks, trollies and dollies are good examples of equipment that may prevent employee strain. It’s important to train any manual handling workers on good handling techniques for lifting and carrying, such as good posture and maintaining a good hold on the load. 

It is also important to protect the equipment being used within manual handling roles. Warehouse racking protection is an effective solution to limiting bumps and scuffs from trucks and trolleys. For example, Rack Armour is proven to reduce racking damage by up to 80%.

We recommend using a highly visible and impact-resistant product to ensure the safest environment possible. 


pedestrian safety barriers

The most common way for chemicals to cause accidents in a workplace is through inhalation of contaminated air.

However, some chemicals can also permeate the skin and can enter the body through the eyes. PPE is essential to protect against contact with hazardous chemicals. This can include anything from eye protection to gloves.

Safe storage of chemicals is also essential; you have up to date storage equipment with good ventilation, placed strategically in the workplace. Bollards & delineators, (such as these Pedestrian Safety Barriers) strategically placed around hazardous chemical storage stations are recommended, to keep the public, or untrained workers, away from danger. 


EV charging point protection

PPE is also frequently used when operating machinery. For example, we suggest wearing earmuffs or earplugs when operating loud machinery and wearing the correct clothing to prevent clothes from becoming caught in the machines.

Wearing the appropriate clothing can also reduce the risk of serious harm in the event of impact from forklifts or lorries, and installing Guardrail Systems can prevent any danger of impact to pedestrians.

To ensure the protection of warehouse equipment, specialist safety guards can be put in place. For example, electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, and are a significant investment; but EV charging point protection can be a cost-effective way of protecting valuable hanging stations.

Working at heights

Guardrail Systems are also useful for working at heights, to prevent workers from slipping or falling. We recommend training employees for working at heights on the possible risks and the correct precautions to take to prevent accidents.

Wearing the correct PPE, such as non-slip footwear, is also essential. 

Driving movable machinery

When driving moveable machinery it is important to protect surrounding pedestrians, as well as other equipment that the machinery may come into contact with.

Sharp edges on the machinery can cause cuts or abrasions, and there is a risk of being struck or injured by moving parts. Pedestrian Safety Barriers can be useful here too, in addition to the use of Column & Post Protection to prevent damage to your machinery. 

These preventative measures are both effective and essential when working in a potentially hazardous environment.

Providing a safe environment for your workers is not only a legal duty but can also contribute to the success of your business; especially when considering the impact of a bad reputation or bad public relations.