Guard Rails and Edge Protection

Falls and falls from heights is a major hazard which causes serious injury and death of workers. One of the hazards contributing to falls from heights is unprotected edges The risk of serious injury including death from a fall increases significantly as work height increases When you cannot eliminate the need to work at a height then you need to work on a solid construction such as scaffold.

Guard Rails Edge Protection

Edge protection must be provided at every open edge of a work platform scaffold platforms must have suitable edge protection in the form of double guardrails and toeboards at every edge to prevent workers and materials falling.

The roof-edge purpose designed scaffold needs to ensure that it is strong enough to withstand the force of someone falling on it other factors to consider are the roof surface, roof pitch and the length of the top ridge to the roof edge-roof protection Each working platform and access platform must have full edge protection comprising of a handrail, mid-rail, and toeboard or a handrail and brick guard

Guard railing may be used to provide effective fall protection at:

The perimeters of buildings or other structures The perimeters of skylights or other fragile roof materials Openings in floor or roof structures, and Edges of excavations

Guard Rail Components

Guard Railing must:

  • incorporate a top rail 900mm-1100mm above the working surface
  • incorporate a mid-rail, incorporate a toe-board (except where it may be impractical to do so) and alternative control
  • measures, such as ‘no go’ zones, to ensure no persons are at risk of being hit by

Falling objects while the scaffold is being erected

  • must be of robust construction and designed in accordance with the relevant Australian Standards.

Top Rails

  • Top rails must be between 900mm and 1100mm above the working surface

Mid Rails

  • Mid-rails must be provided. However, wire mesh guards incorporating a toe board may be used instead of the mid-rail
  • Toe-boards must be provided where reasonably practicable
  • The mid-rail and mesh guards will assist in preventing persons and objects from sliding off the roof

Toe Boards

  • Where there are no mesh guard rails then you must install toe-boards and a mid-rail

Catch Deck

  • Where a deck is set up for a catch, fall distance from working surface to deck must be maximum 1m
  • Where a deck is set for access to a working surface maximum fall distance is 300mm
  • For roof pitches above 25 degrees catch deck must be set maximum 300mm below the working surface (roof)
  • For roofs pitched over 35 degrees, have a platform at the same level as the working surface or bring of the inside handrail and mesh guard a maximum of 100mm laterally from the leading edge(gutter or slab edge)

Roof Pitch 25-35 degrees

  • Where the pitch of the roof is 26–35 degrees, a platform should be constructed to minimize the likelihood of a person falling onto the top rail, or over the guard railing system
  • The platform should be no less than 450 mm wide (two scaffold planks), and should include guardrails and infill panels on its outside perimeter

Roof Pitch greater than 35 degrees

  • Where the pitch of the roof exceeds 35 degrees, a risk assessment should be undertaken to determine the additional safeguards required. Such as bringing up edge protection on the inside standards no more than 100mm from the gutter


  • Edge protection (handrails, mid-rails and toe boards) must be provided at every open edge of a work platform

  • Workers should not have access above any penetrations in the scaffold. If workers are required to work above the penetrations, they should ensure the guardrails (including mid-rails) are installed to prevent access to the penetration, or that the penetration is covered and secured; and any workers involved in railing off or covering and securing such penetrations over and above 2m must be harnessed with the lanyard while performing such work.
  • Before passing scaffold items (“handballing”) ensure all platforms have guardrail protection to all leading edges where a person could fall more than 2 metres.

For more information on professional scaffolding services, Skelskaff Scaffolding is here to provide you the scaffolding management service you need.

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