Virginia Tech®home

Guardrail Systems

Fall Protection Quick Links


Guardrail Systems Permanent Locations

Guardrails systems (see criteria below) for permanent locations should be installed to address fall hazards in accessible areas where maintenance activities must be performed. Where aesthetics are of concern, consider options to minimize the visibility of fall protection systems, such as:

  • Portable guardrails with permanent mounts installed for easy rail installation.
  • Free-standing, non-penetrating (roof membrane) systems.
  • Collapsible or folding guardrails.
  • Architectural guardrails which curve away from the roofline to decrease visibility.

Temporary Locations

For construction and/or renovation projects, guardrails may need to be installed on a temporary basis, and must meet the following criteria:

temporary guardrail system
  • Top rails shall be 42 inches, plus or minus 3 inches, above the walking-working surface.
    • Must withstand a force of at least 200 pounds applied in a downward or outward direction.
    • Must be at least 0.25 inches in diameter or in thickness.
  • Midrails shall be installed halfway between the top rail and walking-working surface when there isn't a wall or parapet that is at least 21 inches high.
    • Must withstand a force of at least 150 pounds applied in a downward or outward direction.
  • Toeboards shall be installed where there is the potential for tools, materials, debris to fall onto workers below.
    • Must withstand a force of at least 50 pounds.
    • Shall be a minimum of 3.5 inches in height.

Steel or plastic banding shall not be used for top or mid-rails. Number 9 tie-wire is permitted to be used to secure guardrails in place due to its rated strength.

Note: If a section of the temporary guardrail must be removed to perform a task, personal fall arrest systems must be used to provide fall protection.


Contact Information

Robin McCall-Miller, Occupational Safety Program Manager