top of page
Guardrail Systems

A guardrail system consists of a top rail, midrail, and intermediate vertical member. Guardrail systems can also be combined with toe boards.  Toe boards must be installed as part of a guardrail system when the hazard of falling tools, material or equipment is present.


Guardrail systems must be free of anything that might cut a worker or snag a worker’s clothing. Guardrails must meet requirements set forth in section 1926.502(b)(3), (4), and (5) .

(Find a general overview of requirements for guardrails in Subpart M, Appendix B)



Some requirements for guardrails:


  • Wire rope used for a top rail must be marked at least every 6 feet with high-visibility materials.

  • The top rail of a guardrail must be 42 plus or minus 3 inches above the walking/working surface.

  • Midrails must be installed midway between the top rail and walking/working surface unless there is an existing wall or parapet at least 21 inches high.

  • Screens and mesh are required when material could fall between the top and midrail or between the midrail and the walking/working surface.

  • Intermediate vertical members, when used instead of midrails between posts, must be no more than 19 inches apart.

  • A guardrail system must be capable of withstanding a 200-pound force applied within 2 inches of its top edge in any outward or downward direction.

  • Midrails, screens, and intermediate structural members must withstand at least 150 pounds applied in any downward or outward direction.

  • Additional protection from falling hand tools, debris, and other small objects through the installation of toe boards, screens, or guardrail systems, or through the erection of debris nets, catch platforms, or canopy structures must be installed to contain or deflect falling objects. Toe boards must be at least 4 inches high. 



  Back to Top

bottom of page