What Are Guardrails?


  • Guardrails are a restraint system in that they prevent you from falling into holes or other hazards. 
  • Guardrails must be capable of withstanding at least 200 pounds of force applied within 2 inches of the top edge, in any direction and at any point along the edge, and without causing the top edge of the guardrail to deflect downward to a height less than 39 inches above the walking/working level. 
  • Midrails, screens, mesh, and other intermediate members must be capable of withstanding at least 150 pounds of force applied in any direction at any point along the midrail or other member. 
  • Guardrail systems must not have rough or jagged surfaces that would cause punctures, lacerations, or snagged clothing. 
  • Top rails and midrails must not cause a projection hazard by overhanging the terminal posts. 
  • Toe boards keep objects from dropping to lower levels causing ‘struck by’ injuries.

Types of guard rails

Where are Guardrails used? 

  • Guardrails are used when you and coworkers need to be protected from whatever lies beyond the rail.
  • They are used at edges where you could fall six feet or more
  • They are used where you could fall less than six feet but there is dangerous equipment below.
  • They are used to prevent falls and stumbles when the edge of surface or walkway is not easily visible.


  • Always take time to inspect a guardrail before depending on it.
  • Never lean on a guardrail unless you’re sure that it’s strong enough to hold you.
  • Stair rails cannot be used as guardrails. They have different requirements. 
  • Guardrails are not usually designed to be tie-off points for fall arrest systems. 
  • Do not use them for this purpose!


  • Name the ways guardrails keep you from harm.  
  • Are the guardrails in your shop where they need to be?