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Title:
GUARDRAIL SAFETY SYSTEM AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/041306
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A guardrail safety system is adapted for being temporarily installed at an elevated unfinished opening in a building under construction. The guardrail safety system includes a pair of cooperating brackets adapted for attachment to opposing vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening. At least one of the brackets has a downward extending lanyard tab adapted to reside adjacent a floor of the building. A protective rail is carried at its opposite ends by the first pair of cooperating brackets. The first lanyard tab functions to space the first protective rail above the floor of the building at the elevated unfinished opening, such that the first protective rail forms a toe rail at the unfinished opening. A flexible lanyard is attached at one end to the lanyard tab of the first pair of brackets and is attached at its opposite end to the first protective rail.

Inventors:
CRAIG GLEN ELI (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2020/047616
Publication Date:
March 04, 2021
Filing Date:
August 24, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CAROCON CORP (US)
International Classes:
E04G21/32
Foreign References:
US20060254166A12006-11-16
US5447345A1995-09-05
US20090206312A12009-08-20
US6779304B22004-08-24
US20190145139A12019-05-16
US5335452A1994-08-09
US5232254A1993-08-03
US1623853A1927-04-05
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHWARTZ, Jeffrey J. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is Claimed:

1 . A guardrail safety system adapted for being temporarily installed at an elevated unfinished opening in a building under construction, the elevated unfinished opening being defined by at least a floor and opposing vertical sides of the building, said guardrail safety system comprising: a first pair of cooperating brackets adapted for attachment to the opposing vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening, at least one of said brackets of said first pair comprising a first downward extending lanyard tab adapted to reside adjacent the floor of the building; a first protective rail carried at respective opposite ends by said first pair of cooperating brackets, wherein said first lanyard tab functions to space said first protective rail above the floor of the building at the elevated unfinished opening; a first flexible lanyard attached at one end to said first lanyard tab of said first pair of brackets and attached at an opposite end to said first protective rail; a second pair of cooperating brackets adapted for attachment to opposing vertical sides of the building a spaced distance above said first pair of cooperating brackets, and at least one of said brackets of said second pair comprising a second downward extending lanyard tab; a second protective rail carried at respective opposite ends by said second pair of cooperating brackets, such that said second protective rail resides a spaced distance above said first protective rail; and a second flexible lanyard attached at one end to said second lanyard tab of said second pair of brackets and attached at an opposite end to said second protective rail.

2. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1 , wherein each bracket of said first pair has a generally U-shaped integrally formed structure comprising spaced apart sides walls and a bottom wall.

3. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 2, wherein said lanyard tab depends from an underside of the bottom wall of said bracket of said first pair.

4. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1, wherein each bracket of said second pair has a generally U-shaped integrally formed structure comprising spaced apart sides walls and a bottom wall.

5. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 4, wherein said lanyard tab depends from an underside of the bottom wall of said bracket of said second pair.

6. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1 , wherein one bracket of each of said first and second pairs is integrally formed with an elongated flat vertical bracket bar adapted for mounting to one of the vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening.

7. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1, wherein said first and second protective rails are adapted to extend parallel to one another at the elevated unfinished opening of the building.

8. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1 , wherein each of said first and second protective rails comprises an OSH A safety color.

9. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1 , wherein said first and second protective rails are freely removable from respective first and second pairs of brackets.

10. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1 , wherein said first and second protective rails are each tethered only at one end to said brackets by respective lanyards.

11. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1 , wherein said brackets of said first and second pairs comprise a plurality of preformed fastener holes.

12. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 1 , and comprising: a third pair of cooperating brackets adapted for attachment to opposing vertical sides of the building a spaced distance above said second pair of cooperating brackets, and at least one of said brackets of said third pair comprising a third downward extending lanyard tab; a third protective rail carried at respective opposite ends by said third pair of cooperating brackets, such that said third protective rail resides a spaced distance above said second protective rail; and a third flexible lanyard attached at one end to said third lanyard tab of said third pair of brackets and attached at an opposite end to said third protective rail.

13. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 12, wherein said first, second and third protective rails are equally spaced and adapted to extend parallel to one another at the elevated unfinished opening of the building.

14. A guardrail safety system according to Claim 12, wherein one bracket of each of said first, second and third pairs is integrally formed with an elongated flat vertical bracket bar adapted for mounting to one of the vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening.

15. A method for protecting workers against falls from heights at a worksite, said method comprising: temporarily installing a guardrail safety system at an elevated unfinished opening in a building under construction, the elevated unfinished opening being defined by at least a floor and opposing vertical sides of the building, wherein temporarily installing the guardrail safety system comprises: attaching a first pair of cooperating brackets to the opposing vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening, at least one of the brackets of the first pair comprising a first downward extending lanyard tab adapted to reside adjacent the floor of the building; supporting a first protective rail at respective opposite ends by the first pair of cooperating brackets, wherein the first lanyard tab functions to space the first protective rail above the floor of the building at the elevated unfinished opening; attaching a first flexible lanyard at one end to the first lanyard tab of the first pair of brackets and attaching an opposite end of the first flexible lanyard to the first protective rail; attaching a second pair of cooperating brackets to opposing vertical sides of the building a spaced distance above the first pair of cooperating brackets, and at least one of the brackets of the second pair comprising a second downward extending lanyard tab; supporting a second protective rail at respective opposite ends by the second pair of cooperating brackets, such that the second protective rail resides a spaced distance above the first protective rail; and attaching a second flexible lanyard one end to the second lanyard tab of the second pair of brackets and attaching an opposite end of the second flexible lanyard to the second protective rail.

16. A method according to Claim 15, wherein the first and second protective rails are freely removable from respective first and second pairs of brackets.

17. A method according to Claim 15, wherein the first and second protective rails are each tethered only at one end to the brackets by respective lanyards.

18. A method according to Claim 15, wherein the first and second protective rails are adapted to extend parallel to one another at the elevated unfinished opening of the building.

19. A method according to Claim 15, wherein each of the first and second protective rails comprises an OSHA safety color.

20. A method according to Claim 15, wherein one bracket of each of the first and second pairs is integrally formed with an elongated flat vertical bracket bar adapted for mounting to one of the vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening.

Description:
GUARDRAIL SAFETY SYSTEM AND METHOD

Technical Field and Background of the Disclosure [0001] The present disclosure relates broadly and generally to a guardrail safety system and method. The exemplary safety system and method is particularly applicable for fall prevention at construction sites.

[0002] Falls are the leading cause of death and serious injury in construction for workers six feet or more above lower levels. Employers must provide effective fall prevention systems in such environments in order to safeguard their workers. Prior to the invention, temporary rails at elevated openings in unfinished buildings were often removed, discarded and not properly maintained thereby creating immediate fall hazards. In exemplary embodiments, the present invention remedies this problem by establishing a temporary guardrail system that allows ready and convenient removal/reinstall at elevated unfinished openings to accommodate the safe loading of supplies into the buildings.

Summary of Exemplary Embodiments

[0003] Various exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure are described below. Use of the term "exemplary" means illustrative or by way of example only, and any reference herein to "the invention" is not intended to restrict or limit the invention to exact features or steps of any one or more of the exemplary embodiments disclosed in the present specification. References to "exemplary embodiment," "one embodiment," "an embodiment," "various embodiments," and the like, may indicate that the embodiment(s) of the invention so described may include a particular feature, structure, or characteristic, but not every embodiment necessarily includes the particular feature, structure, or characteristic. Further, repeated use of the phrase "in one embodiment," or "in an exemplary embodiment," do not necessarily refer to the same embodiment, although they may.

[0004] It is also noted that terms like "preferably", "commonly", and "typically" are not utilized herein to limit the scope of the invention or to imply that certain features are critical, essential, or even important to the structure or function of the invention. Rather, these terms are merely intended to highlight alternative or additional features that may or may not be utilized in a particular embodiment of the present invention.

[0005] According to one exemplary embodiment, the present disclosure comprises a guardrail safety system adapted for being temporarily installed at an elevated unfinished opening in a building under construction. The elevated unfinished opening is defined by at least a floor and opposing vertical sides of the building under construction. The guardrail safety system includes a first pair of cooperating brackets adapted for attachment to the opposing vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening. At least one of the brackets of the first pair comprises a first downward extending lanyard tab adapted to reside adjacent the floor of the building . A first protective rail is carried at its opposite ends by the first pair of cooperating brackets. The first lanyard tab functions to space the first protective rail above the floor of the building at the elevated unfinished opening, such that the first protective rail forms a toe rail at the unfinished opening. A first flexible lanyard is attached at one end to the first lanyard tab of the first pair of brackets and is attached at its opposite end to the first protective rail. A second pair of cooperating brackets is adapted for attachment to opposing vertical sides of the building a spaced distance above the first pair of cooperating brackets. At least one of the brackets of the second pair has a second downward extending lanyard tab. A second protective rail is carried at its opposite ends by the second pair of cooperating brackets, such that the second protective rail resides a spaced distance above the first protective rail. A second flexible lanyard is attached at one end to the second lanyard tab of the second pair of brackets and is attached at an opposite end to the second protective rail.

[0006] According to another exemplary embodiment, each bracket of the first pair has a generally U-shaped integrally formed structure having spaced apart sides walls and a bottom wall.

[0007] According to another exemplary embodiment, the lanyard tab depends from an underside of the bottom wall of the bracket of the first pair.

[0008] According to another exemplary embodiment, each bracket of the second pair has a generally U-shaped integrally formed structure comprising spaced apart sides walls and a bottom wall.

[0009] According to another exemplary embodiment, the lanyard tab depends from an underside of the bottom wall of the bracket of the second pair.

[0010] According to another exemplary embodiment, one bracket of each of the first and second pairs is integrally formed with an elongated flat vertical bracket bar adapted for mounting to one of the vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening. [0011] According to another exemplary embodiment, the first and second protective rails are adapted to extend parallel to one another at the elevated unfinished opening of the building.

[0012] According to another exemplary embodiment, each of the first and second protective rails comprises an OSHA safety color. Exemplary OSHA safety colors include yellow, orange and red. [0013] According to another exemplary embodiment, the first and second protective rails are freely removable from respective first and second pairs of brackets. The term "freely removable" as used herein means freely supported by the brackets without the use of fasteners, such that each protective rail is capable of being readily lifted from the cooperating brackets and lowered (or pivoted into the building) in order to temporarily unblock the unfinished opening when receiving a load of construction materials through the opening.

[0014] According to another exemplary embodiment, the first and second protective rails are each tethered only at one end to the brackets by respective lanyards. The term "lanyard" refers broadly herein to any form of cord, line, cable, rope, chain or other structure capable of tethering the protective rail to the bracket.

[0015] According to another exemplary embodiment, the brackets of the first and second pairs comprise a plurality of preformed fastener holes.

[0016] According to another exemplary embodiment, a third pair of cooperating brackets is adapted for attachment to opposing vertical sides of the building a spaced distance above the second pair of cooperating brackets. At least one of the brackets of the third pair has a third downward extending lanyard tab. A third protective rail is carried at its opposite ends by the third pair of cooperating brackets, such that the third protective rail resides a spaced distance above the second protective rail. A third flexible lanyard is attached at one end to the third lanyard tab of the third pair of brackets and is attached at its opposite end to the third protective rail.

[0017] According to another exemplary embodiment, the first, second and third protective rails are equally spaced and adapted to extend parallel to one another at the elevated unfinished opening of the building.

[0018] According to another exemplary embodiment, one bracket of each of the first, second and third pairs is integrally formed with an elongated flat vertical bracket bar adapted for mounting to one of the vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening.

[0019] In another exemplary embodiment, the present disclosure comprises a method for protecting workers against falls from heights at a worksite. The method includes temporarily installing a guardrail safety system at an elevated unfinished opening in a building under construction. The elevated unfinished opening is defined by at least a floor and opposing vertical sides of the building. Temporarily installing the guardrail safety system comprises attaching a first pair of cooperating brackets to the opposing vertical sides of the building at the elevated unfinished opening. At least one of the brackets of the first pair has a first downward extending lanyard tab adapted to reside adjacent the floor of the building. A first protective rail is then supported at its opposite ends by the first pair of cooperating brackets. The first lanyard tab functions to space the first protective rail above the floor of the building at the elevated unfinished opening, such that the first protective rail forms a toe rail at the unfinished opening. A first flexible lanyard is attached at one end to the first lanyard tab of the first pair of brackets and is attached at an opposite end to the first protective rail. A second pair of cooperates brackets is attached to opposing vertical sides of the building a spaced distance above the first pair of cooperating brackets. At least one of the brackets of the second pair has a second downward extending lanyard tab. A second protective rail is supported at its opposite ends by the second pair of cooperating brackets, such that the second protective rail resides a spaced distance above the first protective rail. A second flexible lanyard is attached at one end to the second lanyard tab of the second pair of brackets and is attached an opposite end to the second protective rail.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0020] Exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure will hereinafter be described in conjunction with the following drawing figures, wherein like numerals denote like elements, and wherein:

[0021] Figure 1 is a perspective view of the exemplary guardrail safety system installed at an elevated unfinished opening of a building under construction;

[0022] Figure 2 is an exploded view of the exemplary guardrail safety system with various component parts separated away from their assembled locations;

[0023] Figure 3 is a fragmentary view showing a portion of the bottom protective rail ("toe rail") spaced above the floor by the bracket lanyard tab;

[0024] Figure 4 is a further fragmentary view showing the portion of the toe rail spaced above the floor by the bracket lanyard tab;

[0025] Figure 5 is a perspective view of an alternative exemplary guardrail safety system installed at an elevated unfinished opening of a building under construction; and [0026] Figure 6 is an exploded view of the alternative guardrail safety system with various component parts separated away from their assembled locations.

Description of Exemplary Embodiments and Best Mode [0027] The present invention is described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which one or more exemplary embodiments of the invention are shown. Like numbers used herein refer to like elements throughout. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be operative, enabling, and complete. Accordingly, the particular arrangements disclosed are meant to be illustrative only and not limiting as to the scope of the invention, which is to be given the full breadth of the appended claims and any and all equivalents thereof. Moreover, many embodiments, such as adaptations, variations, modifications, and equivalent arrangements, will be implicitly disclosed by the embodiments described herein and fall within the scope of the present invention.

[0028] Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation. Unless otherwise expressly defined herein, such terms are intended to be given their broad ordinary and customary meaning not inconsistent with that applicable in the relevant industry and without restriction to any specific embodiment hereinafter described. As used herein, the article "a" is intended to include one or more items. Where only one item is intended, the term "one", "single", or similar language is used. When used herein to join a list of items, the term "or" denotes at least one of the items, but does not exclude a plurality of items of the list. [0029] For exemplary methods or processes of the invention, the sequence and/or arrangement of steps described herein are illustrative and not restrictive. Accordingly, it should be understood that, although steps of various processes or methods may be shown and described as being in a sequence or temporal arrangement, the steps of any such processes or methods are not limited to being carried out in any particular sequence or arrangement, absent an indication otherwise. Indeed, the steps in such processes or methods generally may be carried out in various different sequences and arrangements while still falling within the scope of the present invention.

[0030] Additionally, any references to advantages, benefits, unexpected results, or operability of the present invention are not intended as an affirmation that the invention has been previously reduced to practice or that any testing has been performed. Likewise, unless stated otherwise, use of verbs in the past tense (present perfect or preterit) is not intended to indicate or imply that the invention has been previously reduced to practice or that any testing has been performed.

[0031] Referring now specifically to the drawings, a guardrail safety system according to one exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure is illustrated in Figure 1 and shown generally at broad reference numeral 10. The guardrail safety system 10 is intended for temporarily installation at an elevated unfinished opening 11 in a building "B" under construction, and functions to prevent falls through the opening 11 during operational periods of high work activity at the construction site. The elevated opening 11 is defined by a floor 14, opposing vertical sides 15, 16 comprising one or more jack studs and a header 18 — collectively forming a loading port (or "zone") for the entry of construction supplies into the building "B".

[0032] Referring to Figures 1 , 2, 3 and 4, the exemplary guardrail safety system 10 includes pairs of cooperating vertically-spaced metal brackets 21 , 22 welded to respective flat metal bracket bars 23, 24. The vertical bracket bars 23, 24 have a number preformed fasteners holes 25 designed to receive screws 26 (e.g., #12 x 1.5-inch screws or 8D Duplex Head Nails) sufficient to temporarily affix the bracket bars 23, 24 to opposing inwardly facing surfaces of vertical building sides 15, 16. As best shown in Figures 2, 3 and 4, each bracket 21 , 22 has a generally U-shaped integrally formed (e.g., welded) cradle-type structure comprising spaced apart sides walls 31 , 32 and a bottom wall 33. The side walls 31 , 32 of each exemplary bracket are 4-inch x 4-inch and the bottom wall 33 is 4-inch x 2- inch. The brackets 21 , 22 cooperate to receive and freely hold opposite ends of a protective horizontal rail 35. Alternatively, the rail ends may be temporarily affixed to the brackets 21 , 22 using screws 36 or other suitable fasteners inserted through preformed fastener holes 38. Each bracket 21, 22 may also comprise an integrally formed (e.g., welded) lanyard tab 41 depending from an underside of the bottom wall 33 and having an attachment hole 42 for securing one end of a flexible lanyard 44. The exemplary lanyard tab 41 is 2-inch x 2-inch. The opposite end of the flexible lanyard 44 is affixed to the protective rail 35 by screw 46 or other hardware. The exemplary lanyard tabs 41 of each bracket pair are oriented parallel to the protective rail 35.

[0033] In the embodiment shown, the guardrail safety system 10 comprises three parallel equally-spaced protective rails 35 — the top and bottom horizontal rails each being spaced apart from the center horizontal rail a distance of between 12-18 inches (e.g., 16 inches). In other exemplary embodiments, the guardrail safety system 10 may incorporate only a single protective rail, two spaced-apart protective rails or any other number of spaced-apart rails. Each exemplary rail 35 may comprise a 2-inch x 4-inch (or 2-inch x 6-inch) wood board. The guardrail safety system 10 is particularly applicable for mounting to building surfaces which run perpendicular to the protective horizontal rails 35. The pairs of brackets 21 , 22 and protective rails 35 may be painted in a highly-visible OSHA safety color including yellow, orange or red. The safety color allows workers to readily visually identify designated elevated loading ports within the building under construction.

[0034] Each flexible lanyard 44 may be fabricated of 12-inch to 18-inch metal wire. The three lanyards 44 are attached to the brackets 22 and rails 35 at the same side of the unfinished opening 11 , as shown in Figure 1. When loading materials through the opening 11 , workers can quickly and conveniently lift the protective rails 35 from their cooperating brackets 21 , 22, and then swing the untethered end of each rail 35 inwardly into the building to unblock the loading space. The lanyards 44 effectively tether the protective rails 35 to the brackets 22 to ensure that all components of the safety guardrail system 10 stay together at the worksite. When the protective rails 35 are removed for receiving materials into the building, the lanyard tabs 42 of opposite brackets 21 may be used to attach (through tab opening 42) the lanyard of a personal safety harness worn by a worker. [0035] As best shown in Figures 1, 3 and 4, the lanyard tabs 41 of brackets 21 , 22 additionally function to precisely and uniformly space the lowermost protective rail 35 a predetermined distance (e.g., 2.0 inches) above the floor 14 of the building "B". The lowermost protective rail 35 thereby forms a safety "toe rail" at the unfinished opening 11 . The uniform toe rail spacing allows for water drainage and sweeping of dirt and other loose debris from the building floor 14, prevents feet from slipping off an otherwise unprotected edge of the opening 11 , and prevents tools and other construction implements from being inadvertently kicked or dropped through the unfinished opening 11 by active workers. [0036] A further exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure is illustrated in Figures 5 and 6. The exemplary guardrail safety system 50 includes a pair of cooperating metal J-shaped brackets 51 , 52. The brackets 51 , 52 have a number preformed fasteners holes 54 designed to receive screws 56 (e.g., #12 x 1.5-inch screws or 8D Duplex Head Nails) sufficient to temporarily affix the brackets 51 , 52 to surfaces adjacent vertical sides 61 , 62 of the building "B" at the unprotected opening 71 . Each bracket 51 , 52 has a short vertical front wall 72, a horizontal bottom wall 73, and a long vertical back wall 74. The front wall 72 is 4-inches tall x 2-inches wide, the bottom wall 73 is 2-inch x 2-inch, and the back wall 74 is 16-inches tall x 2-inches wide. The brackets 51 , 52 cooperate to receive and freely hold opposite ends of a protective horizontal rail 75. Alternatively, the rail ends may be temporarily affixed to the brackets 51 , 52 using screws 76 inserted through preformed fastener holes 78. Each bracket 51 , 52 may also comprise an integrally formed lanyard tab 81 depending from an underside of the bottom wall 73 and having an attachment hole 82 for securing one end of a flexible lanyard 84. The exemplary lanyard tab 81 is 2-inch x 2-inch. The opposite end of the flexible lanyard 84 is affixed to the protective rail 75 by screw 86 or other hardware. The exemplary lanyard tabs 81 are oriented perpendicular to the protective rail 75. The exemplary guardrail safety system 50 of this embodiment is particular applicable for mounting to building surfaces which run parallel to the protective horizontal rail 75.

[0037] For the purposes of describing and defining the present invention it is noted that the use of relative terms, such as "substantially", "generally", "approximately", and the like, are utilized herein to represent an inherent degree of uncertainty that may be attributed to any quantitative comparison, value, measurement, or other representation. These terms are also utilized herein to represent the degree by which a quantitative representation may vary from a stated reference without resulting in a change in the basic function of the subject matter at issue.

[0038] Exemplary embodiments of the present invention are described above. No element, act, or instruction used in this description should be construed as important, necessary, critical, or essential to the invention unless explicitly described as such. Although only a few of the exemplary embodiments have been described in detail herein, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible in these exemplary embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of this invention. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of this invention as defined in the appended claims.

[0039] In the claims, any means-plus-function clauses are intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents, but also equivalent structures. Thus, although a nail and a screw may not be structural equivalents in that a nail employs a cylindrical surface to secure wooden parts together, whereas a screw employs a helical surface, in the environment of fastening wooden parts, a nail and a screw may be equivalent structures. Unless the exact language "means for" (performing a particular function or step) is recited in the claims, a construction under 35 U.S.C. §112(f) [or 6th paragraph/pre-AIA] is not intended. Additionally, it is not intended that the scope of patent protection afforded the present invention be defined by reading into any claim a limitation found herein that does not explicitly appear in the claim itself.