Title:
Modular safety railing system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular safety railing system comprises post brackets adapted for attachment to a building structure. Posts are adapted to engage the post brackets the posts are oriented substantially vertically. Upper and lower rail mounts are located on each post and right and left upper and lower rails are releasably attachable at inner portions thereof to corresponding upper and lower rail mounts of a center post and are releasably attachable at outer portions thereof to upper and lower rail mounts of corresponding right and left posts. An upper brace is attached at an upper end thereof to the post and adapted at a lower end thereof for releasable attachment to the building structure. The upper brace is adjustable such that same can be attached to the building structure at an angle to the center post that is sufficient to support the center post in the substantially vertical orientation.



Inventors:
Eisenkrein, Larry (Regina, CA)
Application Number:
11/226500
Publication Date:
03/16/2006
Filing Date:
09/14/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04G3/32
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRADFORD, CANDACE L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP - MINNEAPOLIS (Lawrenceville, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular safety railing system comprising: right, left and center post brackets adapted for attachment to a building structure; right, left and center posts adapted at bottom ends thereof to engage the corresponding right, left and center post brackets such that the right, left and center posts are oriented substantially vertically; right and left upper horizontal rails; right and left lower horizontal rails; an upper rail mount located at an upper portion of each post and a lower rail mount located at a lower portion of each post; wherein the right and left upper rails are both releasably attachable at inner portions thereof to the upper rail mount of the center post and are releasably attachable at outer portions thereof to upper rail mounts of the corresponding right and left posts; wherein the right and left lower rails are both releasably attachable at inner portions thereof to the lower rail mount of the center post and are releasably attachable at outer portions thereof to lower rail mounts of the corresponding right and left posts; a center upper brace attached at an upper end thereof to an upper portion of the center post and adapted at a lower end thereof for releasable attachment to the building structure, wherein the center upper brace is adjustable such that the center upper brace can be attached to the building structure at an angle to the center post that is sufficient to support the center post in the substantially vertical orientation.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the center upper brace comprises telescoping brace members and a lock operative to lock the telescoping brace members together such that a length of the center upper brace is adjustable

3. The system of claim 1 wherein the center upper brace is pivotally attached at the upper end thereof to the upper portion of the center post.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein the center upper brace defines a fastener aperture at a lower end thereof.

5. The system of claim 4 comprising a fastening plate pivotally attached to the lower end of the center upper brace, and wherein the fastening plate defines the fastener aperture.

6. The system of claim 1 wherein at least one rail mount comprises a rail aperture configured to accommodate two horizontal rails such that the rails can slide longitudinally in the rail aperture, and a rail lock operative to lock the horizontal rails in the rail aperture.

7. The system of claim 6 wherein rail aperture is configured to accommodate two horizontal rails oriented such that one horizontal rail is on top of the other horizontal rail.

8. The system of claim 6 wherein rail aperture is configured to accommodate two horizontal rails oriented such that one horizontal rail is beside the other horizontal rail.

9. The system of claim 6 wherein the rail lock comprises a screw operative to exert a force between the rail mount and the horizontal rails.

10. The system of claim 6 further comprising a tie operative to releasably tie the two horizontal rails together adjacent to a post.

11. The system of claim 6 wherein the rail aperture is defined by a rail bracket fixed to the corresponding post.

12. The system of claim 1 wherein the post brackets comprise a socket configured such that the lower end of a post slides into the socket.

13. A modular safety railing system comprising: right, left and center post brackets adapted for attachment to a building structure; right, left and center posts engaged in the corresponding right, left and center post brackets such that the right, left and center posts are oriented substantially vertically; right and left upper horizontal rails releasably attached at inner portions thereof to an upper rail mount located at an upper portion of the center post, and releasably attached at outer portions thereof to an upper rail mount located at an upper portion of each of the corresponding right and left posts; right and left lower horizontal rails releasably attached at inner portions thereof to a lower rail mount located at a lower portion of the center post, and releasably attached at outer portions thereof to a lower rail mount located at a lower portion of each of the corresponding right and left posts; a center upper brace attached at an upper end thereof to an upper portion of the center post and adapted at a lower end thereof for releasable attachment to the building structure, wherein the center upper brace is adjustable such that the center upper brace can be attached to a variety of building structures at an angle to the center post that is sufficient to support the center post in the substantially vertical orientation.

14. The system of claim 13 wherein the center upper brace comprises telescoping brace members and a lock operative to lock the telescoping brace members together such that a length of the center upper brace is adjustable

15. The system of claim 13 wherein the center upper brace is pivotally attached at the upper end thereof to the upper portion of the center post.

16. The system of claim 13 wherein the center upper brace defines a fastener aperture at a lower end thereof.

17. The system of claim 16 comprising a fastening plate pivotally attached to the lower end of the center upper brace, and wherein the fastening plate defines the fastener aperture.

18. The system of claim 13 wherein at least one rail mount comprises a rail aperture configured to accommodate two horizontal rails such that the rails can slide longitudinally in the rail aperture, and a rail lock operative to lock the horizontal rails in the rail aperture.

19. The system of claim 18 wherein rail aperture is configured to accommodate two horizontal rails oriented such that one horizontal rail is on top of the other horizontal rail.

20. The system of claim 18 wherein rail aperture is configured to accommodate two horizontal rails oriented such that one horizontal rail is beside the other horizontal rail.

21. The system of claim 18 wherein the rail lock comprises a screw operative to exert a force between the rail mount and the horizontal rails.

22. The system of claim 18 further comprising a tie operative to releasably tie the two horizontal rails together adjacent to a post.

23. The system of claim 18 wherein the rail aperture is defined by a rail bracket fixed to the corresponding post.

24. The system of claim 13 wherein the post brackets comprise a socket configured such that the lower end of a post slides into the socket.

Description:

This invention is in the field of safety equipment, and in particular safety railing systems for use at construction sites.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Safety for workers is an ongoing concern among a number of industries and for the government agencies whose responsibility it is to enact and enforce regulations designed to improve workplace conditions. Each year a significant number of workers are injured or killed by a fall.

Given that there are often numerous openings in buildings under construction that either would not be present, or would be protected with a finished railing in a completed building, it is not surprising that falling injuries are so prevalent in the construction industry.

It is clearly an important consideration that workplaces are provided with adequate safety devices in order to reduce the risk of falls. The need for safety devices is even more critical when workers are placed at high levels, or when working on uneven or sloping surfaces such as a roof. Because of the inherent risk of falling during construction, it is especially important to foresee the various risk factors and provide safety measure to reduce or prevent the chance of injury. The magnitude of this safety problem has drawn the attention of regulatory bodies such that in many jurisdictions, some form of barrier is now required around elevated work areas.

A variety of prior art apparatus and methods have therefore been developed in order to reduce the risk of falling for construction workers. One approach has been to provide a harness and safety line arrangement that can be attached to an anchor secured to the roof or some other type of support. One problem with harnesses is that they can potentially limit the mobility of an individual worker. In addition, where two or more people are working together, the potential to get safety lines tangled creates a potential nuisance as well as a hazard. Further, harnesses do not prevent falls but only serve to limit the distance a person falls. As a result it is frequently seen that a worker will still suffer injuries when falling while wearing a harness and tether system. Therefore, while a harness and safety line may limit injuries to some extent, they do not prevent a fall from occurring.

A solution directed to preventing falls has been to construct temporary railings from wooden members such as 2×4's. While a railing can be constructed in this way, they are not particularly sturdy and a person falling against such a railing can frequently collapse the rail and suffer a fall regardless. In addition, to construct a railing from wooden members requires that pieces be cut to shape and then assembled, adding to the time and expense of building the railing. Therefore the cost in terms of labor time needed to build a wooden railing can be significant. Finally, at the end of a job, because the railing members have been specifically cut to fit a work area, they are usually unsuitable for reuse and are thus discarded, again adding to construction costs.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,979,725 to Hutchings II et al. teaches a triangular safety railing support comprising a base leg for attachment to a roof, a diagonal base and a telescopic adjustable two-part stanchion having upper and lower stanchion members. The lower stanchion member and the diagonal brace are pivotally connected to the base leg at opposite ends and a remaining end of the diagonal brace is pivotally connected to the upper stanchion member.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,901,481 to Probst illustrates a number of stanchions mounted on a roof and joined by barricade pipes and requires a permanent type of support mounted to the roof. U.S. Pat. No. 3,880,405 to Brueske shows diagonal bracing extending directly between the stanchion and the roof.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a reusable modular railing system that overcomes problems in the prior art. The system is readily adaptable for use in the construction industry, in particular for use at the edge of roof areas. The railing system is portable, easy to assemble and disassemble, and provides improved safety over prior art railings or prior art methods of limiting injuries due to falling.

The invention provides, in one embodiment, a modular safety railing system comprising right, left and center post brackets adapted for attachment to a building structure. Right, left and center posts are adapted at bottom ends thereof to engage the corresponding right, left and center post brackets such that the right, left and center posts are oriented substantially vertically. An upper rail mount is located at an upper portion of each post and a lower rail mount is located at a lower portion of each post. Right and left upper rails are both releasably attachable at inner portions thereof to the upper rail mount of the center post and are releasably attachable at outer portions thereof to upper rail mounts of the corresponding right and left posts, and right and left lower rails are both releasably attachable at inner portions thereof to the lower rail mount of the center post and are releasably attachable at outer portions thereof to lower rail mounts of the corresponding right and left posts. A center upper brace is attached at an upper end thereof to an upper portion of the center post and adapted at a lower end thereof for releasable attachment to the building structure. The center upper brace is adjustable such that the center upper brace can be attached to the building structure at an angle to the center post that is sufficient to support the center post in the substantially vertical orientation.

The invention provides, in a second embodiment, a modular safety railing system comprising right, left and center post brackets adapted for attachment to a building structure. Right, left and center posts are adapted at bottom ends thereof to engage the corresponding right, left and center post brackets such that the right, left and center posts are oriented substantially vertically. Right, left and center posts are engaged in the corresponding right, left and center post brackets such that the right, left and center posts are oriented substantially vertically. Right and left upper horizontal rails are releasably attached at inner portions thereof to an upper rail mount located at an upper portion of the center post, and releasably attached at outer portions thereof to an upper rail mount located at an upper portion of each of the corresponding right and left posts. Right and left lower horizontal rails are releasably attached at inner portions thereof to a lower rail mount located at a lower portion of the center post, and releasably attached at outer portions thereof to a lower rail mount located at a lower portion of each of the corresponding right and left posts. A center upper brace is attached at an upper end thereof to an upper portion of the center post and is adapted at a lower end thereof for releasable attachment to the building structure, and the center upper brace is adjustable such that the center upper brace can be attached to a variety of building structures at an angle to the center post that is sufficient to support the center post in the substantially vertical orientation.

Each of the structural components of the railing system are connected using temporary fastening methods such as screws or bolts, such that the rail can be easily erected at a desired site, and then broken down into component pieces when no longer needed. All of the components of the railing system are reusable avoiding the waste of material associated with the use of prior art handmade wooden railings.

The roof mounted post bracket is provided in a number of configurations, adapted to fit various style roofing systems. In each case the post bracket mounts at the edge of the roof and engages the top surface of the roof with a lower rail brace, along with a mount either underneath the overhang of the roof or extending downwards along the wall under a roof in cases where the roof edge is flush with the building wall. The lower brace provides increased stability for the post bracket at its base.

Each post has a number railing mounts to which horizontal rails can be releasably attached and secured with an eye bolt or the like. Conveniently the rail mounts accept two over-lapping rails, such that individual rails do not have to precisely match the distance between vertical posts, but can overlap with an adjacent rail. In addition by lashing overlapping rails together, the railing can be further stabilized. The number of brackets on each vertical post will determine the number of horizontal rails that can be placed in the railing. It is anticipated that three levels of rails could provide sufficient security for workers who are working in either a prone, crouched or standing position.

The invention provides an advantage in that all of the components are reusable. Thus, after the initial cost of buying the components, the user would realize a cost advantage by being able to use the railing modules over and over.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the invention is claimed in the concluding portions hereof, preferred embodiments are provided in the accompanying detailed description which may be best understood in conjunction with the accompanying diagrams where like parts in each of the several diagrams are labeled with like numbers, and where:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a modular railing system of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of a section of the installed railing system showing the over-lapping relationship between adjacent railings;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a roof mounted post bracket adapted for use on a flat roof or edge of flooring or stairway area;

FIG. 4 is a side view of a roof mounted post bracket adapted for use on a parapet style roof edge; and

FIG. 5 is a side view of a roof mounted post bracket adapted for use on a sloped roof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a modular safety railing system comprising roof mounted post brackets, vertically oriented posts that insert into the post brackets and a series of lower and upper braces to further secure the bottom and top of the railing module to the roof. Each of the structural components of the railing system are affixed to the roof or each other using temporary fasteners such as screws or bolts. As such, the system can be easily erected at a desired site, and then broken down into component pieces to move to a new location. All of the components of the railing system of the invention are reusable, providing the advantage of a cost-effective apparatus for enhancing worker safety.

A safety railing is formed by placing railing modules along the edge of a roof or other area where a temporary safety railing is desired, and then placing horizontally oriented rails through the railing brackets of adjacent posts. The length of the railing is dictated by the number of modules used. Using a modular railing provides the advantage of adaptability such that a railing can be easily and quickly assembled to protect virtually any size and shape area, yet using a common set of simple elements.

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a modular safety railing system 1 comprising post brackets 2 attached to the edge 20 of a building structure, illustrated as a sloped rooftop 18, by fasteners such as screws 19. Posts 4 are adapted at bottom ends thereof to engage the corresponding post brackets 2 such that the posts 2 are oriented substantially vertically as illustrated. In the illustrated embodiment the post brackets comprise a socket configured such that the lower end of a post 4 slides into the socket.

Upper and lower rail mounts, illustrated as rail brackets 14, are located on each post 2. Upper and lower rails 6 are releasably attachable at inner portions thereof to the upper and lower rail mounts of the center post 4C and are releasably attachable at outer portions thereof to corresponding upper and lower rail mounts of the corresponding right and left posts 4R, 4L. The illustrated rail brackets 14 define a rail aperture 13 configured to accommodate two horizontal rails 6 such that the rails 6 can slide longitudinally in the rail aperture 13. In the illustrated embodiment the rail aperture 13 is defined by the rail bracket 14, however it is also contemplated that the rail aperture could be defined by the post itself.

A rail lock, illustrated as a pinch screw 16 is operative to exert a force between the rail bracket 14 and horizontal rail 6 to lock the horizontal rails 6 in the rail aperture 13. In the illustrated embodiment the rail aperture 13 is configured to accommodate two horizontal rails 6 oriented such that one horizontal rail 6 is on top of the other horizontal rail 6, however it could also be configured to accommodate two horizontal rails 6 oriented such that one horizontal rail 6 is beside the other horizontal rail 6. A tie 15, such as a clamp or a zip-tie or the like, can be provided to releasably tie the two horizontal rails 6 together beside the posts 4.

An upper brace 10 is attached at an upper end thereof to an upper portion of each post 4 and is adapted at a lower end thereof for releasable attachment to the rooftop 18. The upper brace 10 is adjustable such that the upper brace 10 can be attached to the rooftop 18 at an angle to the post 4 that is sufficient to support the post 4 in the illustrated substantially vertical orientation.

The illustrated upper brace 10 comprises telescoping brace members 10A, 10B and a lock operative to lock the telescoping brace members 10A, 10B together such that a length of the upper brace 10 is adjustable. Pin 11 through one of a plurality of holes 9 serves as the lock in the illustrated embodiment. Although it is contemplated that the upper telescoping member 10A could be fixed to the upper portion of the post 4, added versatility as to location of the brace 10, and compactness for transport, can be provided by pivotally attaching the upper telescoping member to the upper portion of the post 4 about pivot pin 22.

Fastener apertures 21 are provided at the lower end of the upper brace 10 such that a fastener such as a screw, nail, or the like can be passed through the aperture into the rooftop 18. The illustrated embodiment provides a fastening plate 12 pivotally attached to the lower end of the upper brace 12, and the fastening plate 12 defines the fastener apertures 21. Pivotal attachment allows the plate 12 to be placed flat against the sloping rooftop 18.

To construct a railing using the railing system of the present invention, post brackets 2 are installed along the edge of the rooftop 18, or the edge of any other elevated area, where a railing is desired. The system can be used to barricade small openings such as an open elevator shaft, or an entire roof or floor perimeter can be effectively railed using the same components.

A variety of post bracket 2 shapes may be provided in order to accommodate mounting at different types of roofs or other locations. Thus the invention provides a post bracket 2 adapted for use on flat, sloped or parapet type roofs, as well as at the edge of floor areas, or in open doorways, window openings or shafts. Attachment of the post bracket 2 is be accomplished using screws or nails, or other suitable type fasteners, the choice of fastener depending on the nature of the material to which the railing module is being attached.

The post bracket 2 or post 4 can be further secured to the rooftop 18 by way of a lower brace 8. The lower brace 8 may be an integral part of the post bracket 2, or may be a separate component that is attached to the post 4 or bracket 2 during installation. Where the lower brace 8 is a separate component it would be comprise a tube portion that would slide over the outside of the post 4 or post bracket 2 and be held in place by a locking screw or the like. The brace portion would extend from the post bracket 2 over the surface of the rooftop 18 where it could be secured in place by a suitable fastener.

The lower brace 8 may form a fixed angle relative to the post bracket for use on a roof area with a known slope, or may comprise an articulating portion to allow the lower brace 8 to match the slope of the rooftop 18, regardless of what that slope might be. Using an articulating lower brace 8 thus provides an advantage in a standard type of lower brace could effectively secure the post bracket 2, regardless of the pitch of the roof. The invention also provides that various shapes of post bracket 2 may used, depending on the configuration of the edge of the roof or area where the railing is to be installed. Thus the invention is intended to encompass the use of a post bracket 2 that would function equally well on flat, sloped or parapet roofs, along unfinished stairways, or at the edge of a flooring area that looks out onto a lower level.

Posts 4 are inserted into post brackets 2. The posts 4 can be further secured into the post bracket 2 with a fastener such as a pinch screw or a pin. In addition the posts 4 are also secured to the roof 18 by the upper brace 10, which further serves to maintain the vertical post 4 positioned in the post bracket 2.

The upper brace 10 is connected to the vertical post 4 and to the rooftop 18 via screws through fastening apertures 21 in fastening plate 12. The upper brace 10, rooftop 18 and post bracket 2 and vertical post 4 thus define a triangular shape that provides significant structural strength.

Conveniently, the upper brace 10 is pivotally attached to the post 4 and comprises telescoping members 10A, 10B, such that it can be extended to the length required, and moved up and down to connect the vertical post 4 to the fastening plate 12 with the brace 10 at an angle sufficient to maintain the post 4 vertical when contacted by a worker. Allowing for variability in the placement of the fastening plate 12 permits the user to avoid objects or structures on the roof or floor area that would interfere with placement of the fastening plate. For example, being able to vary the position of the fastening plate 12, would allow the user to avoid permanent fixtures commonly found on a rooftop 18 such as plumbing vents or electrical and other conduits.

The telescoping upper brace 10 also makes installation of the railing simpler and faster. Once in place, the length of the telescoping upper brace 10 can be fixed by placing a pin, bolt, or the like 11 through corresponding holes 9 in the telescoping sections of the upper brace 10.

Once posts 4 are installed in the desired locations, a railing is formed by placing a horizontal rail 6 in the rail brackets 14 of adjacent vertical posts 4.

The rail aperture 13 of the railing bracket 14 is made deep enough to accommodate two over-lapping rails to allow for differing distances between vertical posts 4. The ends of overlapping rails can be lashed together with a rail tie or clamp 15 to further stabilize the railing. The illustrated railing bracket 14 allows for the vertical posts 4 to be placed virtually any distance apart, up to the length of a rail 6. This provides yet another advantage in that distances that are not even multiples of the length of a rail 6 can be completely spanned by a safety railing. Thus a single length of rail 6 could be used in virtually all locations. The rails 6 are secured by pinch screws 16.

The illustrated posts 4 provide only upper and lower rail brackets 14, however any number of brackets 14 could be provided if further intermediate or lower rails 6 are required.

As illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the post bracket 2 of the invention may be provided in number of alternative embodiments, such that the invention can be adapted to a variety of roof styles or areas where a railing might be desired. FIG. 3 shows a post bracket 2 designed for use on a flat roof or similar flat surface such as where an area of flooring or an unfinished stairway is to be railed off. The post bracket 2 comprises a flat base plate portion 30 that can be anchored to the roof or floor using fasteners such as bolts, screws or nails placed through mounting holes 32. The vertical post 4 is placed in the opening 34 of the post bracket 2. If desired, the vertical post 4 can be further secured with a bolt or pinch screw inserted in an opening 36 in the side of the post bracket 2 and the railing assembled as described above.

FIG. 4 illustrates a post bracket 2 designed for use with a parapet style of roof. A parapet is a raised wall-like structure defining the perimeter of a roof and is common in industrial roofing and adobe style architecture. Here the post bracket 2 is placed over a parapet 40. Spaced apart outer side portion 42 and inner side portion 44 provided such that the post bracket 2 effectively straddles the parapet 40. Mounting holes 32 are provided in the outer side portion 42 and inner side portion 44. The post bracket 2 is secured in place by use of a pinch screw 46 extending through the mounting hole 32 tightened against the surface the parapet 40. Other means of attachment, such as nails and the like, can also inserted into the side of the parapet 40 through the mounting hole 32 to secure the post bracket 2 to the parapet 40. Once the post bracket 2 is in place, a vertical post is then placed into the opening 34 at the top of the post bracket and the railing assembled as described above.

FIG. 5 illustrates a post bracket 2 design adapted for use on a sloped roof, like those illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. Typically in a sloped roof the edge of the rooftop 18 further comprises a fascia 50 which eventually provides a point of attachment between the roof rafters, the soffit and the wall studs and header onto which the roof is typically placed. In the case of a post bracket 2 used on a sloped roof, the post bracket 2 further comprises a clamping portion 52 and a main body portion 54 which provide a clamp structure of substantially the width of the fascia 50. To install the post bracket as illustrated in FIG. 5, the post bracket 2 is put in place such that the fascia is located in the space formed between the clamping portion 52 and main body portion 54. A screw 46 is tightened to produce sufficient force that the post bracket 2 is held firmly in place. Alternatively, instead of a screw other forms of attachment such as nails and the like may be used. Once installed, a vertical post 4 is placed in the opening 34 of the post bracket 2 and the railing assembled as described above.

In constructing a safety railing, adjacent posts 4 are placed in a spaced apart fashion, the spacing determined by the length of the rails to be used, as well as by considerations related to the desired load bearing capacity of the finished railing. Where a stronger railing is required, the posts 4 could be more closely spaced. It will obvious to those skilled in the art whether closer spacing, heavier components, or a combination of the two methods, is most suitable to provide a railing of the desired load bearing capacity.

The use of a modular railing system has the added advantage in providing a generic railing system that is adaptable to all types of roof areas or other locations where a railing is desired. The length of the railing can be easily varied by the number of modules that are used. Thus, a simple set of railing components could be purchased by a builder and used and reused at a number of different locations. The ability to reuse components is a significant advantage over at least one type of railing system, that being the construction of railings using wood members such as 2×4's, which are typically discarded at the end of a job.

The present invention may also be fashioned out of materials such as aluminum, thus providing a lightweight, yet strong safety railing system providing a further advantage over custom built wooden railings. Thus, by providing a modular system for constructing a safety railing the present invention is well adapted for use in fashioning railings around areas of virtually any size or shape, and overcomes limitation in prior methods and apparatus intended to prevent or limit injuries due to falls.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous changes and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all such suitable changes or modifications in structure or operation which may be resorted to are intended to fall within the scope of the claimed invention.