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ANSI MH31.2-2021 – Test Method for Crash Testing Industrial Guardrail Barriers and Barrier Posts

“Omega Industrial Safety applauds the rigorous testing and reporting by the Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association to develop universal criteria, especially in regard to the operation of forklifts. The new ANSI standard will help companies better understand what they need to do protect their employees and safeguard their facilities.” Eric Brewster, Omega Industrial Safety,

Published just last year, ANSI MH31.2-2021 provides specifications for a crash testing method for evaluating the performance characteristics of industrial guardrail barriers and posts. These items are commonplace in industrial facilities and warehouses, and are used for protecting machinery, equipment, shelving, racks, doors, structures and pedestrians from being struck by forklifts, sweepers and other in-plant vehicles. They also safeguard walls, columns and other building features as well as finished products. Preventing injuries to people is of paramount importance. Preventing property damage helps companies avoid repair costs and the downtime needed to make repairs. Guardrails and barriers are typically mounted to the ground-level concrete floor slab at a safe distance away from pedestrian aisleways, vital equipment or critical infrastructure. The standard is designed to make it easier for end users to compare products and determine which ones are appropriate for their particular applications.

ANSI MH31.2-2021 was published by the Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA), whose members are the industry’s leading suppliers of fixed protective guarding products designed to protect personnel, equipment and inventory in industrial facilities. ProGMA worked on developing the standard with Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), which addresses complex transportation challenges.

ANSI MHI31.2 includes:

  • A test method with various impact speeds (either three, five or seven miles per hour) and surrogate test vehicle weight (from 9,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds) that can be used to replicate the kind of powered industrial truck impacts that can occur in manufacturing, warehousing or distribution environments. Previously, there were no standardized parameters for manufacturers of guardrail barriers and posts to use when performing independent testing of their products.
  • A requirement that testing to be performed at an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited testing facility.

The tests are designed to provide information about the degree of impact protection a barrier will provide as well as guidance about where to locate a guardrail in relation to the item or items that need to be protected.

In addition to the test results, a thorough assessment of a facility will help determine where and what type of industrial guardrails and barriers are needed. Heavy traffic areas, hazardous machinery and product storage areas are obvious choices, but guardrails and barriers can also be used to protect overhead door tracks on docks from being damaged and to visibly separate different areas of a facility. To be effective, protective guarding must be installed correctly.

Features to consider when choosing guardrails and related components:

  • Customization capability in terms of rails height
  • Easy installation
  • The ability to absorb the impact of moving vehicles
  • High-visibility finishes in OSHA-approved colors
  • The ability to expand or relocate guardrails as needed
  • Mounting posts that can absorb impact and remain in place
  • Removable guardrails are optimal where frequent access is required. They can swing out of the way or be taken off the hinges to allow quick accessibility
  • Lift-out rails can be set aside until access is no longer required.

Features to consider when choosing safety barriers and related components:

  • A strong rail-to-post connection, which can help distribute energy from an impact
  • A selection of bracket styles and specialty brackets
  • The ability to avoid damage to walls by mounting directly to precast concrete or masonry walls
  • Mounting posts that are heavy duty
  • Custom mounting posts that allow for for multiple rail applications, heights, special angles and more specific connection requirements
  • Portable pedestrian safety barrier used to control construction site zones and other hazardous zones should be lightweight, compact and highly visible.
  • Bollards are short vertical posts that allow personnel to pass through an area but prevent vehicles from doing so.
  • Dock door protection, dock lift gates, conveyor guarding and column protectors are other available protective solutions. WMHS


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