A mezzanine is a floor between main floors in a building, often installed to create additional storage space in warehouses. Mezzanines present considerable hazards to employees who must work on and around them. OSHA’s regulations about mezzanine requirements fall under its construction standards for fall protection: Duty to Have Fall Protection, Fall Protection Systems Criteria and Practices, and Guardrail Systems-Non-mandatory Guidelines for Complying with 1926.502(b). OSHA issues fines and replacement requirements for violations of its regulations for fall protection that apply to mezzanines.
OSHA's standard titled "Duty to Have Fall Protection" addresses employers’ duty to determine the strength and weight capacity of the walking surfaces used by employees. A raised work surface, which is six feet or more above a permanent floor, must have guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, such as harnesses, to protect workers from falling, and to protect people underneath from falling objects. Unprotected sides and edges of raised working surfaces are not allowed.
Fall Protection Systems
"Fall Protection Systems Criteria and Practices" outlines specifics for mezzanine and raised work areas’ guardrails and floor surfaces. As of 2009, the top edge of guardrails must be 42 inches above the floor, balusters and mid-rails must not be more than 19 inches apart, the floor must support 200 pounds, and guardrails must support 150 pounds. Guardrails, mid-rails and floor surfaces must be free of components that cause punctures, scratches, or snag clothing. If safety nets are used, they must be no more than 30 feet below the raised surface, must support 400 pounds and must be inspected weekly for wear and damage.
Guardrail Systems Guidelines
"Guardrail Systems-Non-mandatory Guidelines for Complying with 1926.502(b)" describes how to design and build guardrails to comply with OSHA regulations. Wood components, if used for guardrails, must be at least 1,500-pound-per-foot construction grade lumber, the posts must be 2-by-4-inch lumber spaced no more than eight feet apart, and top rails require 2-by-4-inch lumber. Pipe railings constructed of one-and-a-half-inch pipe spaced no more than eight feet apart, and steel railings made from 2-by-2-inch angles, also spaced no more than eight feet apart, are acceptable.