ADA Circles for Checking Guard Opening Limitations

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If  your project is under the IBC or CBC you need ADA Circles for Checking Guard Opening Limitations

Opening Limitations

The 4” sphere rule must also be followed, which indicates that there shouldn’t be any opening big enough to allow a sphere with a 4” diameter to pass through from the walking surface to the maximum guard height.

There are certain exceptions to this rule:

  • If guards are placed on a height of 36-42”, they should not have any opening that allows a sphere with a 4 3/8″ diameter. On guard rail between the height of 36 and the top at 42 that opening must be less the 4 3/8” respectively
  • The triangular openings found around the open side of a stair created by the riser must not be big enough to allow a sphere 6 inches in diameter to pass through. The opening between the stair and the guard rail creates a triangular shape that must reject a 6” sphere.
  • If cables are used in a cable railing system, they must be tensioned to a point where they can resist a 4” sphere passing through.
  • For elevated walking surfaces that are installed for accessing electrical or maintenance systems, the maximum gap allowed should not allow a 21” sphere to pass through. These areas known as “back of house” or maintenance access NOT public access must adhere to these OSHA rules.


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