Where possible, the work at height hierarchy of controls states that a collective fall protection system, such as guardrail, is preferable to a personal fall protection system such as a lifeline and harness.
Though guardrailing might seem like a simple matter, people can often become confused by the different options and legal requirements. That’s why we have put together a short guide, to answer some of the more common questions regarding collective fall protection.
Should guardrail always be fitted on the edge of the roof?
Not always. Though it might be referred to as edge protection, and the logical place to install guardrail might be the edge of the roof, the positioning of guardrail should always be dictated by the individual safety requirements of each roof.
We would recommend guardrails be positioned around the perimeter of the roof, to allow for safe access to the gutter and unforeseen maintenance, such as roof leaks. However, it may not always be possible to install the guardrail around the entire perimeter. In such cases, it is acceptable to position guardrail on the roof to allow access only for routine maintenance, such as that of air conditioning units.
Requirements can change from roof to roof, and safe access methods can vary wildly depending on the type of access required. A full risk assessment should be carried out by a competent person, and if there are any doubts, the advice of an expert should be sought.
Is there a legally required height for guardrail?
Guardrail, such as KeeGuard, will usually be manufactured to a minimum height, specified at 1100mm, however, this may depend on the application.
EN13374, the most common standard used when specifying rooftop guardrails, stipulates that temporary edge protection systems must be at least 1m high when perpendicular to the roof surface, and the gap in the system must not exceed 470mm. Where there is no upstand of at least 150mm at the edge, a toe board should be included.
Can I fold guardrail down?
Folding or collapsible guardrail is available, and perfect for applications where the aesthetics of a building must be unchanged.
We would advise positioning folding guardrail 1m or more from the roof edge, leaving a safe demarcation zone to safely raise the system. We would not advise raising the system at the roof edge without additional safety controls.
Should my guardrail be fixed permanently to the roof?
This will depend on a number of factors, including roof type, pitch, location and the type of access required.
The majority of applications call for freestanding guardrail, with no need to penetrate the structure.
However, all guardrails should be manufactured and installed to the specified standard, and should always meet load criteria. As long as guardrail has been installed to the correct standard, it should not move with human interaction.
Do I need to have my guardrail inspected?
YES. Collective fall protection such as guardrailing should be inspected annually.
It is a common misconception that due to having fewer moving parts than personal fall protection systems such as lifelines, there is no chance of failure. This is untrue, and guardrail systems can fail like any other.
Regulation 5 of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations, the Work at Height Regulations and BS EN 395 all require equipment to be maintained and inspected regularly by a competent person, and this includes guardrail.
It is also important to note that whilst we advise having guardrail properly inspected annually, inspections should be performed more frequently in harsh environments, such as a coastal roof.
Click here for further information about annual inspection of fall protection equipment and systems.
If you have any questions about guardrail, inspection and recertification, or the solutions we offer, call us on 01293 529977, or use our online contact form.