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Safety is always the number one priority, but it’s not always easy. From Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas to the Kansas City Airport, the jobsites of many contractors include reusable safety systems such as construction-grade, 13-gauge, hot-dipped galvanized steel guard rails and perimeter fencing systems.

Reusable safety systems don’t fall into the nice-if-you-can-afford-it column. They actually save money by reducing costs and inefficiencies, as well as providing additional revenue streams. Investing in reusable safety systems increases every contractor’s competitive advantage.

There are many reasons why old-school guard rails, for example, are falling out of favor. One of the main reasons is cost. While it may seem easier to use two-by-fours, chances are good that contractors do not realize how much traditional methods cost them.

Another consideration is unnecessary waste. While the two-by-fours will go into a landfill after one job, a construction-grade, galvanized steel railing that is coated with rust-resistant zinc inside and out has a 15-year life expectancy, recovering the upfront cost after using it a few times. If contractors are committed to following lean construction principles, this is an environmentally friendly way to reduce waste and sustain natural resources.

Similarly, traditional jobsite perimeter fencing systems are made of light-gauge steel that is prone to damage, breach and tip-over, thus costing the contractor significant time and money to constantly maintain. Newer systems such as a 13-gauge galvanized steel with side-saddle brackets are sturdier and low maintenance.

The benefits of reusable safety systems include the following.

  • They improve productivity. Systems are simple to install using a standardized process. Downtime costs contractors time and money, and impacts the project schedule. There’s no having to pay a fence subcontractor and having to coordinate with their schedule. Installation gets even faster with familiarity. 
  • They are engineered to safety standards. These robust systems are low risk because they are engineered and already built to construction-grade standards and won’t shrink or expand. By comparison, non-engineered two-by-fours are only as good as the carpenter building them. And with reusable railing, craftworkers on jobsites don’t have to deal with power tools and the accompanying risks of lacerations and other injuries associated with job-built wood railings.
  • They are more environmentally friendly. Wood rails take time to build, are challenging to make OSHA compliant and generally get tossed at the end of the job. Light-gauge fencing systems get tossed after a couple of uses. Reusable safety rails and fencing systems are a better solution for the planet.
  • They look professional. They demonstrate to customers and potential customers that the contractor take pride in its construction projects and knows how to manage them. A disheveled site not only looks unprofessional, but also may contain several safety hazards. When contractors consistently have jobsites that look professional, with materials that are installed, stacked and stored properly, they look like an industry leader and a role model for others to follow.
  • They minimize shipping and handling risks. Reusable systems are easier to transport, position, store and inventory. The last thing anyone wants is material being dropped onto workers below during hoisting operations or material being dislodged during traversing throughout the jobsite. With reusable safety railing, stackable kit systems contain the necessary components to install and secure 200 linear feet of leading-edge fall protection.
  • They reduce cash flow. In most cases, the return on investment is very fast. They pay for themselves after two to three uses, with low to no maintenance.
  • They create their own revenue stream. Contractors make money by keeping the guardrail and fencing systems in the bid, even after they are paid for. As with other durable equipment assets such as forklifts, the revenue from renting reusable systems for every job moving forward will go directly to their bottom line. 

Well-known contractors including Mortenson, JE Dunn, Turner Construction, Gilbane, DPR Construction, Ryan Companies and others have added construction-grade, reusable rail and fencing systems to their equipment fleets. And these systems are a consideration for building owners, company executives and other decision-makers when awarding jobs.

The overall future is strong for robust, reusable safety rail and perimeter fencing systems because they make jobs easier, faster, solve common safety-related problems and save contractors money. They are more economical while stopping wastefulness. Construction-grade rail and fencing systems are just the beginning. Watch for this important aspect of the industry to expand dramatically in the coming years.


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