Title:
Variable rail safety system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multi-use variable guard rail system for providing a safe working area is mountable on various surfaces, whether sloped (roofs), vertical (walls) or horizontal (floors). A rail support of the system has an upright pivotally engaged with a base, and a brace that locks the upright relative to the base in numerous positions ranging between an acute angle and an obtuse angle where the upright and base are linearly aligned. The upright has openings that hold rails such as various sizes of lumber in a vertically stacked array without the need to cut or fasten the lumber, and which allows for replacement of rails without disassembly of the rest of the system. The base has a tongue particularly suited for roof work, namely it is used to mount the rail support to the roof, yet allows the base to be lifted for placing shingles thereunder.



Inventors:
Klein, Richard James (Calgary, CA)
Klein, Victor Dee (Calgary, CA)
Application Number:
11/113005
Publication Date:
11/10/2005
Filing Date:
04/25/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04G1/36; E04G21/32; E04H17/00; (IPC1-7): E04G1/36
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060243526SCAFFOLD LOCKING MECHANISM WITH TENSION INDICATORNovember, 2006Perry
20090188754COLLAPSIBLE STEPSTOOLJuly, 2009Warren et al.
20070240940Windage brakingOctober, 2007Moriarty
20060070798Training system for assisting a child with learning bipedal motionApril, 2006Dicristina et al.
20060254859Universal ladder levelerNovember, 2006Redekas et al.
20060254857Cable Ladder Device for High Building RescueNovember, 2006Zhou et al.
20090000867Plastic ladderJanuary, 2009Wang
20040118635Apparatus for evacuating people from a high building in emergencyJune, 2004Sun et al.
20010020559Equipment support systemsSeptember, 2001Mccracken
20040251080Retractable and extensible step assemblyDecember, 2004Kalos
20040104307Escape chuteJune, 2004Stokes



Primary Examiner:
BRADFORD, CANDACE L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS E. MALYSZKO (CALGARY, AB, CA)
Claims:
1. A guard rail support for removably receiving rail members to form a guard rail safety system for removably attaching to a structure comprising: a) an elongate upright member having spaced first and second upright attachment means, and mounting means for supporting said rail members; b) an elongate base member adapted to be removably secured to said structure and having spaced first and second base attachment means, said first base attachment means adapted to be pivotally engaged with said first upright attachment means; and, c) an elongate brace member having spaced first and second brace attachment means, said first brace attachment means adaped to be pivotally engaged with said second base attachment means, and said second brace attachment means adapted to be selectively secured to said second upright attachment means to provide said upright member with a desired positioning relative to said base member ranging between an acute angle and an obtuse angle where said upright and base members are substantially linearly aligned.

2. The guard rail support of claim 1 wherein said second brace attachment means is adapted to align with, and be secured to, said first upright and first base attachment means to fix said upright and base members in said substantially linearly aligned position.

3. The guard rail support of claim 1 wherein said mounting means comprises at least one elongate opening in said upright member adapted to receive at least two rail members in a vertically stacked array.

4. The guard rail support of claim 3 wherein said upright member includes three of said openings longitudinally aligned, and said first and second upright attachment means are located at opposed ends of one of said openings.

5. The guard rail support of claim 1 wherein said second brace attachment means comprises a plurality of brace holes spaced along said brace member to allow said upright member to be positioned generally vertically when said base member is secured to structures of various inclines.

6. The guard rail support of claim 5 wherein said brace holes are located along said brace member to accommodate structures having pitches of at least one of 0/12, 4/12, 5/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12 and 10/12.

7. The guard rail support of claim 5 wherein said brace member has first and second opposed ends, said first brace attachment means being located at said first end and one of said brace holes being located at said second end so as to align with said second upright attachment means to allow said brace member to be removably attached to said upright member when said upright and base members are in said substantially linearly aligned position.

8. The guard rail support of claim 1 wherein a planar tongue protrudes from one end of said base member and is adapted to receive fasteners to operatively secure said base member to said structure, said tongue having resilient means to allow said base member to be raised from said structure while said tongue is secured to said structure.

9. The guard rail support of claim 8 wherein said base member has an elongate U-shaped body portion adjacent said one end, said body portion having a plurality of spaced base holes for receiving fasteners to removably secure said base member to said structure, said base holes extending to either side of said second base attachment means.

10. A guard rail support for removably receiving rail members to form a guard rail safety system for removably attaching to a structure comprising: an elongate upright member having spaced first and second upright attachment means, and mounting means for supporting said rail members; an elongate base member having spaced first and second base attachment means, said first base attachment means adapted to be pivotally engaged with said first upright attachment means, and including a resilient tongue protruding from one end of said base member adapted to receive fasteners to operatively secure said base member to said structure and to allow said base member to be raised from said structure pivotally about said secured tongue; and, an elongate brace member having spaced first and second brace attachment means, said first brace attachment means adaped to be pivotally engaged with said second base attachment means, and said second brace attachment means adapted to be selectively secured to said second upright attachment means to provide said upright member with a desired positioning relative to said base member.

11. The guard rail support of claim 10 wherein said base member has an elongate U-shaped body portion adjacent said one end, said body portion having a plurality of spaced base holes for receiving fasteners to removably secure said base member to said structure.

12. The guard rail support of claim 11 wherein said base holes extend to either side of said second base attachment means.

13. The guard rail support of claim 10 wherein said mounting means comprises at least one opening in said upright member adapted to receive at least two rail members in a vertically stacked array.

14. The guard rail support of claim 10 wherein said second brace attachment means comprises a plurality of brace holes spaced along said brace member to allow said upright member to be positioned generally vertically when said base member is secured to structures of various inclines.

15. A guard rail system removably installable to a structure comprising: a plurality of rail members; at least two rail supports for said rail members, each of said rail supports comprising: an elongate upright member having spaced first and second upright attachment means, and mounting means for supporting said rail members comprising at least one elongate opening in said upright member for receiving at least two of said rail members in a vertically stacked array and adapted to allow replacement of any one of said rail members without disassembly of the rest of the system; an elongate base member adapted to be removably secured to said structure and having spaced first and second base attachment means, said first base attachment means adapted to be pivotally engaged with said first upright attachment means; and, an elongate brace member having spaced first and second brace attachment means, said first brace attachment means adaped to be pivotally engaged with said second base attachment means, and said second brace attachment means adapted to be selectively secured to said second upright attachment means to provide said upright member with a desired positioning relative to said base member.

16. The guard rail system of claim 15 wherein said upright member includes at least two of said openings longitudinally aligned.

17. The guard rail system of claim 15 wherein said second brace attachment means is adapted to align with, and be secured to, said first upright and first base attachment means to fix said upright and base members in a substantially linearly aligned position.

18. The guard rail system of claim 15 wherein said second brace attachment means comprises a plurality of brace holes spaced along said brace member to allow said upright member to be positioned generally vertically when said base member is secured to structures of various inclines.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a safety device and more particularly to a temporary, multi-use guard rail system to provide a safe working area for persons on a building under construction.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

When a residential or commercial building is in the various stages of construction, there is a need to have a safe work area. There have been problems providing safety rails to areas under construction such as floor edges, roof edges, and tops of walls as they are being erected prior to the floor being installed, as well as for openings in roofs, floors and stairwells.

The current practice is to merely construct a makeshift guard rail from lumber (such as lumber of a nominal 2″×4″ inch (aprox. 50 mm×100 mm) cross-section, commonly referred to as a “two-by-four” or “2×4”). These types of guard rails, also referred to as fences or railings, are usually not as strong as one would like, and a worker falling against such railings can easily dislodge the makeshift railing causing the worker to fall and risk injury or death. The dislodged makeshift railing may also fall down, creating a falling object hazard for lower levels of the construction site. These problems are of such a nature that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, in the United States of America and the Occupational Health and Safety Code, or OHS code, in Canada have become alarmed. The regulations have been revised to require temporary railings on all open elevated work surfaces or building structures to withstand at least 890 Newtons (N) (aprox. 200 pounds) force applied in any direction along the top rail without failure. To date there is no single apparatus of which we are aware that has the versitility to meet the requirements of these regulations for all of the various work areas of a typical building under construction.

There are currently several examples of specific-use products available to provide a safe work environment for an individual trade. In a first example (i.e. “example 1”), there are guard rail systems available for a roof trades-persons to use while installing roofing products on a roof, such as a guard rail support shown in Canadian patent application 2,162,526. In a second example (example 2), there are guard rail products for use only around openings or edges of flat (i.e. horizontal) surfaces. In a third example (example 3), there is the common practice of using a 2×4 wooden upright post nailed into an uppermost exterior vertical wall and joined to a horizontal 2×4 to create a makeshift railing that affords protection to the level above the erected walls. This allows the carpenters to proceed to the next level and begin installation of the floor on top of the walls.

However, there are disadvantages to these prior art products. Some disadvantages of the products of example 1 are that they tend to be heavy units making it very hard for the carpenter to carry the units over the open framing members of a roof and to install the guard rail system. Further, the design of the support in Canadian patent application 2,162,526 limits the choice of horizontal rail members for installation as railings. For instance, where the tubular guard rail attachment elements (38) are sized for 2×4 lumber,larger 2×6 lumber could not be used for a sloped surface setting to create a more secure guard rail system. Yet a further disadvantage is that these horizontal rail members, when installed in a fence formed by a series of three or more uprights, are installed butt-end-to-butt-end inside the retaining tubes (of the guard rail attachment elements). Such confirguration makes removal of one horizontal rail anywhere along the length of the rail system difficult without forcing the adjacent horizontal rail out of the tube, causing another area of the roof to be without fall protection.

A disadvantage of the products of example 2 is that the current practice is to generally use complex and expensive metal systems or a series of brackets in combination with 2×4 lumber fastened together by nailing or screwing the horizontal members to the vertical members. In most cases such assembly is expensive due to material (lumber and fasteners) and labor costs.

A disadvantage of the systems of example 3 is the excessive time required to install and remove all of the uprights from their proper position and to construct a railing made entirely out of 2×4 lumber. This is also very costly because the 2×4 lumber is seldom reusable upon disassembly of the railing. Once this type of railing has been installed it is typically not as secure as one would like, and it can create a falling object hazard to the workers below as noted earlier.

What is therefore desired is a novel variable rail safety system, which overcomes the limitations and disadvantages of the existing systems and products. Preferably, it should create a safe work environment for all trades involved from start to finish of most or all aspects of a building during construction. In particular, the novel system should keep manpower and materials from sliding off or over the edge of the work surface of a building during construction. The system should be mountable on various sloped roofs as well as on vertical surfaces (walls), on level, or generally horizontal, surfaces, and around openings, such as floor openings and the like.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

According to the present invention, there is provided in one aspect a guard rail support for removably receiving rail members to form a guard rail safety system for removably attaching to a structure comprising:

    • an elongate upright member having spaced first and second upright attachment means, and mounting means for supporting said rail members;
    • an elongate base member adapted to be removably secured to said structure and having spaced first and second base attachment means, said first base attachment means adapted to be pivotally engaged with said first upright attachment means; and,
    • an elongate brace member having spaced first and second brace attachment means, said first brace attachment means adaped to be pivotally engaged with said second base attachment means, and said second brace attachment means adapted to be selectively secured to said second upright attachment means to provide said upright member with a desired positioning relative to said base member ranging between an acute angle and an obtuse angle where said upright and base members are substantially linearly aligned.

The upright member also has openings that hold rails, such as various sizes of lumber, in a vertically stacked array without the need to cut or fasten the lumber, and which allows for replacement of rails without significant disturbance, nor disassembly, of the rest of the system. Hence, there is provided in a second aspect a guard rail support for removably receiving rail members to form a guard rail safety system for removably attaching to a structure comprising:

    • an elongate upright member having spaced first and second upright attachment means, and mounting means for supporting said rail members;
    • an elongate base member having spaced first and second base attachment means, said first base attachment means adapted to be pivotally engaged with said first upright attachment means, and including a resilient tongue protruding from one end of said base member adapted to receive fasteners to operatively secure said base member to said structure and to allow said base member to be raised from said structure pivotally about said secured tongue; and,
    • an elongate brace member having spaced first and second brace attachment means, said first brace attachment means adaped to be pivotally engaged with said second base attachment means, and said second brace attachment means adapted to be selectively secured to said second upright attachment means to provide said upright member with a desired positioning relative to said base member.

The base also has a tongue particularly suited for roof work, namely the tongue is used to mount the rail support to the roof, yet allows the base to be lifted for placing shingles thereunder. Hence, there is provided in a third aspect a guard rail system removably installable to a structure comprising:

    • a plurality of rail members;
    • at least two rail supports for said rail members, each of said rail supports comprising:
    • an elongate upright member having spaced first and second upright attachment means, and mounting means for supporting said rail members comprising at least one elongate opening in said upright member for receiving at least two of said rail members in a vertically stacked array and adapted to allow replacement of any one of said rail members without disassembly of the rest of the system;
    • an elongate base member adapted, to be removably secured to said structure and having spaced first and second base attachment means, said first base attachment means adapted to be pivotally engaged with said first upright attachment means; and,
    • an elongate brace member having spaced first and second brace attachment means, said first brace attachment means adaped to be pivotally engaged with said second base attachment means, and said second brace attachment means adapted to be selectively secured to said second upright attachment means to provide said upright member with a desired positioning relative to said base member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a guard rail fence formed by a variable rail safety system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention mounted on an inclined roof of a building under construction adjacent a lower edge of the roof;

FIG. 1a is a close-up view of an end of the fence in the circled portion of FIG. 1 indicated by the letter “A” showing an erect support in an elevated orientation and rails mounted thereto;

FIG. 1b is a close-up view of another part of the fence in the circled portion of FIG. 1 indicated by the letter “B” showing an intermediate rail support having rails mounted thereto from both sides;

FIG. 2a is an elevated side view of the rail support in an elevated orientation;

FIG. 2b is an end view of the rail support from the right side of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 2c is an isometric view of the rail support of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 2d is a plan view from above of the rail support of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 3 is a exploded view of the various components of the rail support;

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the upright member of the rail support showing the various components thereof;

FIG. 5a is an isolated side view of the lower arm of the rail support;

FIG. 5b is a plan view of the base member from the top of FIG. 5a showing various fastener apertures;

FIG. 5c is a view similar to FIG. 5b but showing the base member in an unfolded position as would be encountered during the manufacturing process;

FIG. 5d is an end view of the unshaped base member of FIG. 5a;

FIG. 5e is an isometric view of the base member of FIG. 5a;

FIG. 6a is an isolated side view of the brace of the rail support showing various fastener apertures therethrough;

FIG. 6b is a plan view of the brace from the top of FIG. 6a;

FIG. 6c is an end view of the brace of FIG. 6a;

FIG. 6d is an isometric view of the brace of FIG. 6a;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the rail support similar to that of FIG. 2a, but showing: a) the rail support in solid line in an elevated orientation where the upright member is pivotally mounted to the base member and is held in such orientation by the brace; b) the rail support in another elevated orientation where the upright member (in dotted outline) is in a fully upright, or vertical, position perpendicular to the base member; and c) the rail support in a flat orientation where the upright member (in dotted outline) is brought clockwise to a horizontal position colinear to the base member, and held in such orientation by the brace and respective fasteners;

FIG. 8 shows yet another use of the variable rail safety system of the present invention, namely in an elevated orientation mounted onto a generally horizontal floor about the edges of an opening therein, such as for a future stairwell or elevator shaft;

FIG. 9 is an exploded view of the fasteners for use with the brace to hold the rail support in the flat orientation;

FIG. 10 shows another use of the variable rail safety system of the present invention, namely mounted to and extending above the upper end of a wall being erected on a building under construction;

FIG. 10a is a close-up view of the rail support in the circled portion of FIG. 10 indicated by the letter “A” showing the rail support in a flat orientation and rails mounted thereto;

FIG. 11 is a view similar to FIG. 1 showing the method of using the rail supports of the variable rail safety system on an inclined roof during shingle installation.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The figures show a guard rail system and assembly according to the present invention, which is also referred to herein as a variable rail safety system, or simply the “VRS system”. Referring first to FIGS. 1 to 1b, the VRS system is defined by a guard rail fence (generally designated by the reference numeral 20) which is capable of being removably attached to various structures, most commonly to a building 22 under construction, to provide a safe working area. One such structure for illustrative purposes is an inclined or pitched roof 24 having a timber truss sub-structure (not shown) covered by plywood or like sheeting 26. The VRS system should be installed wherever a fall barrier is required, such as along the front and/or side edges 28a, 28b of the roof. Other structures will be shown and discussed later.

Referring still to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-1b, the guard rail fence 20 is formed by removably attaching several elongate rail supports 40 to the roof at spaced intervals along the edge 28a, and by mounting elongate rails or rail members 30 to the rail supports in a vertically spaced relationship. The rail supports 40 may be adjusted to provide a substantially vertically oriented guard rail fence for most standard roof pitches, and for horizontal and vertical structures as explained later. These rail supports may also be referred to as posts or stanchions. The rails 30 in this embodiment are lengths of typical 2×6 inch lumber, although they may be advantageously formed of other suitable materials (such as recycled plastic) and be of various cross-sectional shapes, construction (e.g. solid, hollow, honeycomb or the like) and dimensions, as will be better appreciated later.

Referring now also to FIGS. 2a-2d and 3, each rail support 40 has three principal components, namely a first elongate upper member 50, a second elongate “base” member 70 and a third elongate “brace” member 90. Although the upper member 50 need not be oriented vertically when the rail support is installed, it is desirable to do so for most applications, and so for ease of reference the upper member will also be referred to herein as an upright member, or simply as an “upright”.

The upright 50 (seen in further detail in FIG. 4 as well) has an outer peripheral portion 52, formed by bending a length of flat metal bar, to define a first upright end 54, an opposed rounded second upright end 56, and an intermediate body portion 55. Flat metal inserts 58 are welded to the inside face of the outer portion 52 at intervals along the intermediate body portion to form longitudinally aligned first upper, second intermediate and third lower openings 60a, 60b and 60c, respectively, which define mounting means for receiving and supporting the rails 30. A first set of aligned holes 62 formed in the opposed inserts 58 at the first upright end 54 define a first upright attachment means, and a second set of aligned holes 64 formed in the opposed inserts 58 at the opposed end of the lower opening 60c define a second upright attachment means, the purpose of which will be discussed below. In the preferred embodiment each elongate opening 60a, 60b, 60c is dimensioned to accept at least two of the 2×6 rail members one atop another, namely in a vertically stacked array. It will be appreciated that the upright may be constructed longer or shorter for particular applications, and thus require a different number of openings. It may also be possible to combine two or three of the openings to form one longer opening capable of accepting more than two stacked rails, or alternately to create a greater number of smaller openings, each capable of holding only one rail, although this may not be preferred for reasons of structural stability and/or increase manufacturing costs.

The base member 70 (seen in further detail in FIGS. 5a-5e as well) has a U-shaped body with upstanding sidewalls 76 joined by a floor portion 78, a first base end 72, an opposed second base end 74 and an intermediate body portion 73. A first set of aligned holes 80 formed in the sidewalls 76 near the first base end 72 define a first base attachment means, and a second set of aligned holes 82 formed in the sidewalls 76 about midway along the intermediate body portion 73 define a second base attachment means. The first base attachment means is pivotally engaged with the first upright attachment means by aligning the respective first holes 62, 80 and passing a pin 42b (shown in FIG. 9) or like means therethrough to form a hinge point. A planar tongue 84 is formed at the second base end 74 by extending the floor portion 78 away from the sidewalls 76. The tongue has means to facilitate securing of the base member 70 to the roof 24 in the form of at least one, but preferably two or more holes 86a, 86b for receiving suitable fasteners (not shown) which operatively (but removably) secure the base member to the roof. However, the tongue, or at least that portion of the tongue between the last hole 86b and the upstanding sidewalls 76, should be suitably resilient to provide a means of allowing the rest of the base member to be lifted from the structure (pivotally about the tongue) while the tongue remains secured to the structure. This feature is advantageous when laying shingles on a pitched roof. However, if further securing of the base member to the structure is desired, the intermediate body portion 73 has several holes 88 spaced along the floor portion 78 for receiving suitable fasteners. It has been found that extending the holes 88 from the the second base end 74 past the second base attachment means 82 and toward the first base end 72 provides for a more secure attachment of the base member to vertical walls, as noted later.

The brace 90 (seen in further detail in FIGS. 6a-6d) is a tubular member of rectangular cross-section having a first brace end 92, an opposed second brace end 94, and an intermediate body portion 93. A first set of aligned brace holes 96 near the first brace end 92 define a first brace attachment means, and a second set of aligned brace holes 98a-98h and 98i formed along the intermediate body portion 93 and toward the second brace end 94, respectively, define a second brace attachment means (collectively identified as 98). The first brace attachment means 96 is pivotally engaged with the second base attachment means 82 by aligning the respective first and second holes 96, 82 and passing a pin 42a (shown in FIG. 9) or like means therethrough. Further, the second brace attachment means 98 is selectively secured, as with a removable pin, to the second upright attachment means 64 to provide the urpight with a desired positioning relative to the base 70, namely in a range from an acute angle (i.e. less than 90 degrees as shown by A in FIG. 7) to an obtuse angle (i.e. up to and including 180 degrees as shown by O2), and including a right angle O1. Hence, with the angle O1 the upright and base members are perpendicular to one another, whereas with the angle O2 the upright and base members are substantially linearly aligned, but pointing in opposed directions.

Referring again to FIGS. 7 and 1, the rail support 40 forms a triangulated frame capable of numerous orientations suitable for use on inclined structures, such as a roof. The roof slope is described as a pitch, which is a ratio of the rise (vertical V) to a given run (horizontal H—see FIG. 1). A pitch of 0/12(also 0:12 or 0 in 12) means a roof is flat, and a pitch of 4/12 means a rise of 4 units (inches, feet, cm, m, etc) for a run of 12 units. A typical roof will have a pitch between 0/12 to 10/12. The preferred embodiment of the rail support is adapted for use in this range of pitches. Each of the brace holes 98a to 98h along the brace 90 allow the upright 50 to be positioned generally vertically when the base is secured to a roof having such pitches. A chosen brace hole must be pinned to the second upright hole 64 to accommodate a desired pitch. The brace holes 98a to 98g are spaced along the brace to position the upright at an acute angle A (as indicated in solid outline by 50A in FIG. 7) to accommodate pitches of 10/12, 9/12, 8/12, 7/12, 6/12, 5/12 and 4/12, respectively. The brace hole 98h is located to place the upright at a right angle O1, perpendicular to the base 70 (as indicated in dotted outline by 50B in FIG. 7), to accommodate a pitch of 0/12. The latter is suitable for use on a flat roof, or on other level structures, such as by an opening 112 in a floor 110 (FIG. 8). It will be understood that the brace need not have all of the mentioned brace holes 98a-98h, and yet provide an adequate range of desired pitches. As few as one hole may be adequate for a particular use or user. Likewise, more or different holes may be provided for further pitches. However, it has been found that the brace holes of the preferred embodiment provide an optimum mix of versitility and manufacturing cost.

Another desirable feature is the earlier noted ability of the upright to be brought beyond the perpendicular position into linear alignment with the base 70, as indicated in dotted outline 50C in FIG. 7. This “flat” positioning of the base and upright members creates a long, rigid stanchion 40 (FIG. 9) particularly suitable for use on vertical structures, such as creating a guard rail fence 20 (FIG. 11) along the top edge of a wall 114 (shown in FIG. 10 being raised toward a vertical position atop a floor 116 of a building 22 under construction). FIG. 9 shows the flat position in greater detail, and shows the pins 42a-42c and corresponding wing nuts 44a-44c preferably used to secure the rail support in its various positions. In the instant case, the pin and nut 42a, 44a should be loosened but remain engaged with the base 70 and brace 90, namely with the base holes 82 and brace holes 96, to allow the brace to be brought into linear alignment with the base. However, the pins 42b, 42c and nuts 44b, 44c should be disengaged to avoid interfering with the linear alignment of the upright 50 with the base and brace, as shown. When the members are linearly aligned, the distal brace hole 98i should align with the second upright hole 64 for engagement by the pin and nut 42c, 44c, and one of the second set of brace holes 98a-98h should also align with the second base holes 80 and the first upright holes 62 for engagement by the pin and nut 42b, 44b. This latter pin engagement advantageously locks the three members in the desired linearly aligned position, and makes the rail support ready for mounting to the desired wall or like structure.

With continued reference to FIGS. 10, 10a, the above flat stanchion 40 is secured to the wall 114 by means of several suitable fasteners (e.g. nails or screws) placed through the base holes 88 (FIG. 5b) into a wall stud. Most of the upright 50 should protrude above the edge of the wall to provide a guard rail fence of suitable height. In FIG. 10 two spaced stanchions are adequate for the relatively short wall, and more can be used for longer walls. In this case the spacing is suitable to receive two rails (preferably 2×4 or 2×6 standard lengths of lumber), one in each set of the upright openings 60a and 60b. The fence 20 should be assembled and secured to the wall prior to its errection, while the wall lays flat on the floor 116. Once the wall is errected, the guard rail fence 20 creates an effective safety barrier along the top edge of the wall, particularly when the next level of floor is being installed along that top edge.

Regarding installation of the present invention on a pitched roof that is being shingled, and with reference to FIG. 11 (which shows multiple rows of shingles 120), the VRS system is used by merely installing two screws or other fasteners 87 through the holes 86a, 86b of the tongue 84 of each rail support into the top cord of the roof truss (not shown), thus sandwiching the roofs plywood sheeting 26 therebetween. The upright is then brought to a generally vertical position, and, depending on the roofs pitch, one of the brace holes 98a-98i is engaged with a pin 42c (FIG. 9) to the second upright hole 64 to maintain the desired positioning. The rails are then placed through the upright openings to form the fence 20. As the rest of the base 70 is not fastened to the roof, the lower end of the base may be conveniently raised slightly by roof trades-persons to allow for the installation of roofing products (i.e. the shingles 120) under the stanchion base 70, thereby allowing the trades-persons to advantageously perform their complete installation without removal of the guard rail system, and thus maintain a safe work area. After the roofing work is completed, the VRS system is easily removed by first removing the rails 30 from the uprights, and then by merely lifting those shingles (indicated by 122) which cover the respective tongues 84 of each stanchion, and removing the two fasteners 87 therefrom, to allow the stanchion to be lifted from the roof. These rail supports and rails are therefore advantageously available for re-use on another building.

To lengthen the VRS system shown in FIG. 11 for longer roof lines, one simply adds more supports 40 at spaced intervals and more rails 30 to form the guard rail fence shown in FIGS. 1-1b. It is preferred that the spacing between the supports be no more than about 10 feet (about 3 m) to accept a standard 12 foot (about 3.6 m) length of 2×6 lumber and allow some overhang 32 beyond each is upright opening, whether at the end of the fence (as in FIG. 1a) or at an intermediate support (as in FIG. 1b). Hence, the pairs of stacked rails 30 in each upright opening of an intermediate support (FIG. 1b) form the earlier mentioned vertically stacked array of rails. A distinct advantage of this arrangement is that it allows any damaged rails to be replaced by merely sliding a selected rail out of its respective upright openings, without disturbing or requiring disassembly of the rest of the fence. The rails also remain lodged in the supports without additional fasteners or the like.

Other uses of the VRS system should now be apparent. This system may be attached to the upper portion of a parapet wall on a roof to create an upright guard rail for a flat top roof perimeter. Because of the variable inclinations provided by the present rail support, it may also be used on bridge and road construction where surfaces are not always level, as well as other industrial and commercial applications. This system can be used to create a horizontal, elevated guard rail fence around the edge of a work area to creating a safe work place. Referring to FIG. 8 again for example, the 90 degree, or upright, orientation allows for installation of fasteners through two or more of the base holes 88 (FIG. 5b) (including the tongue holes 86a, 86b, if desired) into floors 110 or any other flat, level surfaces, thus creating a upright guard rail fence for the perimeter of a work area or a floor opening 112 (such as an elevator shaft, stairwell, mechanical shaft, etc.). Note that the base members 70 in FIG. 8 extend away from the opening 112 so as to place the uprights 50 adjacent the opening. However, the opposite orientation (i.e. base members facing toward the opening) may also be used to avoid workers stepping on the base members.

The VRS system may be manufactured out of any number of different metals or materials. An alternative material to using metal is hardened plastic as well as structural rubber compounds. A wood product could be an alternative material but may not contain the resilience factors needed over a long period of time.

The operation and many advantages of the present invention over the prior art, including that of examples 1 to 3 in the background, may now be better understood.

The VRS system provides a rail support of reduced weight, but which still provides the desired structural integrity. The rail support 40 is a light weight unit which should be capable of withstanding 890 Newton's of force applied in any direction along the top rail of the guard rail fence 20. The present system is further adapted to optionally use 2×6, 2×4 or other lumber as rails, and allows for these rails to pass atop one another through openings (60a-60c) in the upright in a staggered configuration, thus making it possible to remove one section of the guard rail (to load materials onto a roof, for instance) without jeopardizing the integrity of the adjacent rails or work area. It is preferable to use 2×6 lumber as rails on a sloped surface such as a roof, rather than the current practice of using 2×4 lumber, due to the added safety factor.

The VRS system provided greater ease of installation. It is removably secured to a structure by using as few as 2 fasteners through the base member 70, and then by merely sliding the multiple lumber rails 30 into the openings of respective uprights. Since no lumber needs to be cut or fastened together, the rail supports and lumber are all reusable, thus saving cost for lumber, fasteners and labor. It therefore installs very quickly, and the use of so few fasteners in the base leaves minimal surface degradation to the underlying structure.

By using a manufactured rail support the present invention minimizes installation and removal time, and material cost, as compared to prior lumber fences constructed from scratch. A further advantage of using the present invention is that it provides a more secure guard rail, when using the same length of fastener, such as a standard 3.5 inch (aprox. 88 mm) nail. To illustrate, the common practice of nailing 2×4 vertical posts to a wall (to act as rail supports) results in only 2 inches (aprox. 50 mm) of nail penetration into the wall. In contrast, the holes in the thin base of the present rail support allow up to 3.25 inches (aprox. 81 mm) of nail penetration into the wall. This also reduces the previously mentioned falling object hazard to workers below.

A further advantage over the prior art is that the manufactured rail support of this invention may be installed in all of the configurations contemplated by the earlier prior art examples. Whereas the prior art provides single use devices, the present rail support has multiple applications, such as on flat roofs, pitched roofs, on walls and floors of various inclinations, around openings and the like. The VRS system can be installed at the top of exterior walls prior to the erection of the exterior walls, thereby creating a safety guard rail for the next level of building. The present invention thus eliminates the need for purchasing a separate apparatus for every individual type of application cited by the earlier examples.

The above description is intended in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense, and variations to the specific configurations described may be apparent to skilled persons in adapting the present invention to other specific applications. Such variations are intended to form part of the present invention insofar as they are within the spirit and scope of the claims below. For instance, the second upright hole 64 could be placed higher in the next set of inserts 50, but this would require a longer (and thus heavier and more costly) brace to provide the same range of motion for the upright about the base. Likewise, the openings in the uprights may be substituted by other mounting means for the rails, such as channel members fixed to the uprights, but this would needlessly add weight and cost due to more material and manufacturing requirements.