What Does Toeboard Mean?
A toeboard is a protective barrier installed on the edges of work platforms or other raised areas to prevent objects from falling to a lower level and potentially harming someone or causing damage to property.
Toeboards are typically made of wood or metal and run horizontal to the barricades that are erected to prevent workers from falling from leading edges.
Safeopedia Explains Toeboard
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines toeboards in their Federal Register Volume 81, Number 223 as:
“a low protective barrier that is designed to prevent materials, tools, and equipment from falling to a lower level, and protect workers from falling. Typically, employers erect toeboards on platforms, dock boards, catwalks, gridirons, and other elevated or exposed floor level edges. Toeboards, also are referred to as toeplates or kickplates, and maybe part of a guardrail system”
OSHA’s Requirements for Toeboard
OSHA requires all employers to provide any employee working at heights with the adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), a personal fall arrest system (PFAS), and an environment conducive to carrying out their work safely.
According to OSHA Standard 1917.112(d), toeboards shall be provided when employees below could be exposed to falling objects such as tools and construction materials. Toeboards shall be at least 3 ½ inches (8.9 cm) in height from top edge to floor level, and be capable of withstanding, a force of 50 pounds (222 N) applied in any direction. Drainage clearance under toeboards is permitted, so long as it doesn't exceed 1/4 inch.
There are different ways of installing toeboards, depending on the type of platform.
Welding the toeboard to the surface of a platform is one option when both the toeboard and the platform are metallic. If the platform and the toeboard are non-metallic, however, another installation method will be required instead.
If the toeboard is made of hard plastic material or wood, it can be drilled in place through U-bolts. .
Another option is to use special toeboard base flanges or extruded toeboards that could be made of hard plastic or rust-proof aluminum material.
Important Considerations for Toeboards
- A toeboard that is not high enough to prevent tools or material from falling can be amended to increase the height or be installed with solid or mesh panels.
- The toeboard should be installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and the requirements of the jurisdiction.
- Toeboards should be removed properly and no parts such as nails should remain protruding.
- A toeboard in poor condition should not be used and its associated guardrail system should be considered unsafe until repaired.