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Industrial Safety Barrier Testing Standards — Meet ANSI MH31.2

Industrial safety barriers have been proven to keep people safe and prevent workplace accidents, but only recently there has been a formal 3rd-party testing standard for them! Without crucial, objective testing, it is difficult for potential buyers to compare various safety product options and ensure that a barrier works just as intended — to save people's lives. 

Due to this gap, the Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA) worked in coordination with other industry authorities to write the first standardized test method for industrial guardrail barriers and post systems. Published last year, ANSI MH31.2 determines strength ratings by a safety barrier's weakest point and ensures this objective 3rd-party standard for safety barriers. 

About The New Standard 

ANSI MH31.2 includes:

  • A test method with various impact speeds (either three, five or seven miles per hour) and surrogate test vehicle weight (from 9,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds) that can be used to replicate the kind of powered industrial truck impacts that can occur in manufacturing, warehousing or distribution environments. Previously, there were no standardized parameters for manufacturers of guardrail barriers and posts to use when performing independent testing of their products.
  • A requirement that testing to be performed at an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited testing facility.

The Authors

ANSI MH31.2 was written in partnership between ProGMA, industry-leaders, and Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), a leader in third-party testing. 

Before ANSI MH31.2-2021, there was no official safety standard for the use of evaluating the performance of industrial guardrail barriers and posts. ANSI MH31.2 outlines a test method that provides a variety of selection options for both gross vehicle weight and impact speed which are predetermined prior to testing. A surrogate test vehicle, designed to simulate a powered industrial truck of similar weight, is then driven to the chosen speed just prior to impact.

On the date of approval of this standard, ProGMA consisted of the following member companies: 

  • Adrian's Safety Solutions 
  • Bluff Manufacturing 
  • Boplan USA Inc. 
  • Carron Net Company, Inc. 
  • Damotech, Inc. 
  • Folding Guard® 
  • Heartland Engineered Products, LLC 
  • Husky Rack & Wire 
  • InCord 
  • Industrial Netting 
  • Jesco Industries, Inc. 
  • McCue Corporation 
  • Mezzanine Safeti-Gates Inc. 
  • SICK, Inc. 
  • SlowStop Guarding Systems, LLC 
  • SpaceGuard Products, Inc. 
  • Steel King Industries, Inc. 
  • Troax, Inc. 
  • Wildeck, Inc. 
  • WireCrafters, LLC 

Third-Party Testing

In order to confirm objectivity, ANSI MH31.2 requires an accredited third-party testing lab to certify the results — particularly an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited testing facility. The International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission, aka "ISO/IEC," enables laboratories to demonstrate that they operate competently and generate valid results, thereby promoting confidence in their work both nationally and around the world.

What that also means is an accredited third-party, like Texas A&M Transportation Institute TTI, must install a product and perform its test using their own equipment.

Importantly, this is different from third-party witnessing, which occurs when a flexible guardrail provider invites an accredited third-party to witness a test that the company is executing. Rather than merely witnessing a test, third-party testing certifies a safety barrier's impact rating because it is performed and tested by them. With MH31.2, it is the first and only North American standard for guardrail impact testing. 

According to ProGMA, here are the features to consider when choosing guardrails and related components:

  • Customization capability in terms of rails height
  • Easy installation
  • The ability to absorb the impact of moving vehicles
  • High-visibility finishes in OSHA-approved colors
  • The ability to expand or relocate guardrails as needed
  • Mounting posts that can absorb impact and remain in place
  • Removable guardrails are optimal where frequent access is required. They can swing out of the way or be taken off the hinges to allow quick accessibility
  • Lift-out rails can be set aside until access is no longer required.

Features to consider when choosing safety barriers and related components:

  • A strong rail-to-post connection, which can help distribute energy from an impact
  • A selection of bracket styles and specialty brackets
  • The ability to avoid damage to walls by mounting directly to precast concrete or masonry walls
  • Mounting posts that are heavy duty
  • Custom mounting posts that allow for for multiple rail applications, heights, special angles and more specific connection requirements
  • Portable pedestrian safety barrier used to control construction site zones and other hazardous zones should be lightweight, compact and highly visible.
  • Bollards are short vertical posts that allow personnel to pass through an area but prevent vehicles from doing so.
  • Dock door protection, dock lift gates, conveyor guarding and column protectors are other available protective solutions.