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Code Requirements for handrails on retaining walls

Code Requirements for handrails on retaining walls

I am reviewing a site plan for code compliance in regards to hand rails on retaining walls for pedestrian safety. I found a BOCA Code 1825.5 that requires a handrail/guardrail if your retaining wall is over 4' tall and a pedestrian path is closer than 2'. I'm suprised that you could have a 15' drop-off and a sidewalk 3' away and not need a pedestrian safety rail. I have reviewed the IBC, and the ANSI Code for accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilites but I have been unable to find the code requirements. Does anyone have any insigth on this?

RE: Code Requirements for handrails on retaining walls

Normally the owner of the wall's insurance company will require a fence.  This is simply to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit.  I'm not aware of any code requirements, however, some locallities may have them.

RE: Code Requirements for handrails on retaining walls

Thank-you. I have confirmed that there used to be code requirements for rails in the BOCA code under 1825. The IBC dropped the ball on this and the code requirements didn't make it into the IBC code. I heard that there is a petition to add information on this topic and that it will probably be included in a revision or supplement to the IBC code in October of this year.

RE: Code Requirements for handrails on retaining walls

I looked at uniform building code under section 509 "guardrails".  They didn't mention retaining walls but you could interpret unenclosed floors/roofs as retaining walls.  They stipulated that for a 30" drop off or greater you needed a guardrail that was a minimun of 42" tall.  That would seem to be a good cya if your are concerned with site retaining walls.

RE: Code Requirements for handrails on retaining walls

OSHA requires fall protection for anything over 6 feet. If the owner has anyone doing any maintance, landscaping, etc. near the wall they will require a railing.

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