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The types and uses of steel stanchions

Apr 1, 2019, 19:32 PM by Carli Barnes

Most people interact with steel stanchions everyday without realising - think queues at the bank, the supermarket or at events.

However, in industrial settings these features take on special importance. They often perform important safety functions, as well as helping to direct the flow of people and materials from A to B.

In this article we'll take a look at two popular types of steel stanchions and how they can be used. We'll also dig a bit deeper into the material behind the product, demonstrating why steel is so well suited to this application. 

Stanchions play are a crucial component in a number of site safety features.

What is a stanchion?

First up, it's useful to quickly establish what we mean by a stanchion.

Stanchions key to any industrial safety barrier, and should be chosen carefully.

Stanchions are vertical posts or bars, usually used as part of a support structure. This means they're a component part of a larger system, and aren't deployed in isolation. In many day-to-day applications you'll see stanchions joined by retractable belts or ropes. However, as we're talking about industrial settings, the stanchions discussed here are more often used in safety barriers and handrails.

1. Types of steel stanchions

Stanchions are a key element of many industrial safety features, and you have some important decisions to make when selecting a system to use on your project. 

At Webforge, we manufacture market leading safety barrier products that can be used to provide handrails for features including platforms, process floors and walkways, or as protective guardrails. Depending on your priorities, you can choose:

  1. The Monowills™ safety barrier system: Here your stanchions, and other parts, can be made from heavy duty or more standard materials. This allows you to tailor the product to the application, taking into account the volume of traffic you expect the feature to receive. 
  2. The Monowills™ Link: This is a modular version of the above system, permitting a reduced installation time. No welding is required to assemble the Link, and this option is available as presassembled stanchions, or as a completed structure.
Stanchions are commonly used in safety barriers, handrails and guardrails.

2. The uses of steel stanchions

As mentioned, steel stanchions have two primary uses in industrial contexts - safety barriers and guardrails. But why are these elements so key? Let's look at each in turn:

Safety barriers:

Staff safety should be your top priority as too many Australian employees are still dying at work. One of the leading causes of this is falls from height, accounting for 15 per cent of worker fatalities in 2017 according to SafeWorkAustralia.

Fall prevention measures must be implemented when staff are working at heights of two metres or more.

The National Code of Practice for the Prevention of Falls in General Construction states that physical fall prevention measures must be implemented when staff are working at heights of two metres or more. However, it's worth bearing in mind that injuries and fatalities can occur when any elevated work is taking place.

When considering what stanchions are best suited for your safety barrier application, load-bearing should be front of mind, as well as the specific environment you'll be using them in. We'll have a further look at these considerations in section three. 

Guardrails:

Guardrails are another important industrial safety feature. 

AS1657:2018, the Australian Standard governing height related safety apparatus, has some specific requirements when it comes to guardrails. They are:

  • Height: Guardrails must stand at least 0.90 metres from the walkway surface
  • Width: An industrial walkway can't be less than 0.6 metres wide, and the distance between guardrails shouldn't be shorter than 55 centimetres.
  • Guardrails on sloping roofs: A third rail is recommended if the guardrail is on the edge of a roof with a slope of 12° or more. A guardrail should also be used when the area adjacent to the walkway is on an incline of 12° or more.

Stanchions clearly play a large part in ensuring guardrails meet these conditions, so careful consultation of AS 1657:2018 is recommended when drawing up the dimensions of your guardrail or safety barrier system.

Stainless steel is a popular material for making stanchions.

Selecting a material for your stanchion

This article is all about steel stanchions, but there are a number of options both within and outside this material category:

  • Mild steel - This metal is easy to weld and shape, making it a cost effective option for producing stanchions. 
  • Stainless steel - Stainless steel has the upper hand over mild steel in terms of both strength and corrosion resistance. The other advantage of this type of steel stanchion is its polished aesthetic appeal. However, it's harder to weld and less malleable, making it a more expensive option.
  • Aluminium - This metal also loses out to stainless steel in a strength contest. However, it's a lot lighter - a quality which tends to make for easier installation. Thanks to the formation of an oxide layer when exposed to oxygen, aluminium also ticks the boxes when it comes to rust prevention. 

Hopefully this article has shed some light on the importance of the often overlooked steel stanchion. For more advice, or information on our products, get in touch with the team at Webforge today. 

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