PERMANENT ROOF GUARD RAIL SYSTEMS
Safe@Heights are the leaders in the design, installation and certification of permanent roof guard railing systems. Our light weight aluminium guard rail looks great and provides a permanent and safe solution to fall prevention.
Click on our video in the top banner to check out our roof mounted guard railing in action!
All our guard railing systems are designed by our experienced team of Height Safety Specialists and installed by our owner professional and experienced installers, who are all trade qualified carpenters. We do not use subcontractors so we can guarantee an outstanding installation first time every time!
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Why Install a Roof Guard Rail?
The use of Guard Railing Systems is a great way to restrict access from a roof edge or void by providing a physical barrier between the worker and the fall zone. Our aluminium roof guard railing system can be installed on either metal or concrete. The installation of a well designed and compliant permanent roof guard railing system is one of the safest ways to protect workers from the dangers of falling from heights. The Work Health & Safety Act 2011 states that when designing a system to protect against falls from heights the PCBU must refer to the hierarchy of control. A physical barrier is a higher control than the use of an anchor point system which relies heavily upon the correct use of the system. We have seen many well designed anchor point systems not being used correctly or at times not being used at all due to the extra time it takes to complete a job while using a fall arrest system. That is why where possible we recommend the installation of a permanent roof guard railing system.
We recommend the Sentry Guardrail System from SAYFA. This system complies with AS1657 and can be installed on almost any surface. It is a modular system which allows for easy design for any area.
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How to Design a Safe Roof Guard Rail System
An example of a well thought out and designed fall prevention system which complies with the hierarchy of control would be as follows;
“Workers accessing an air conditioning plant from a hatch. The distance to the plant is 50m. The most direct route takes workers past 3 fall zones and the plant is situated 1.5m from the edge of the roof. We would recommend a design which incorporated a walkway system which either avoids all fall zones or combines with a permanent guard rail to protect against the fall zone. Once at the plant we would install a guard railing system along the edge of the roof which protects the workers while accessing the plant. The walkway gives a set path of access which is not only safe but also protects the roof from damage. Walkway allows access to the plant faster while reducing the risk of ankle injuries to workers. Part of the buildings site induction will now state that workers are not to leave the walkway at any time.“
Hand Rail or Guard Rail? Which One Is It?
Most people will use the term Hand Rail and Guard Rail thinking it is the same thing. But it actually isn’t. They are two different types of systems and are defined in the Australian Standard AS1657:2018 – Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders – Design, construction and installation.
The Standard’s definition is,
Guard Railing – “A system of rails or panels, or both, that provides edge protection at the edge of a floor of platform or walkway.”
Hand Rail –“A rail that provides a handhold on a platform, walkway, stairway or step type ladder. NOTE: A hand rail may form part of a guard rail.”
To make it easy, we define a guard rail as a physical barrier to prevent someone from falling over an edge or penetration. Whereas a hand railing is used to provide a second or third point of contact when walking on stairs, platform or walkway. Of course there are times when a system will do both, at which point either description would be correct.
What is the Definition of a Compliant Rooftop Guard Railing System?
For a roof guard rail system to be deemed compliant, it must meet certain criteria set out in the Australian Standard AS1657:2018. The Standard provides set measurements that the system must comply with, such as height and mid rail spacings. They also provide guidance on design changes dictated by the roof pitch or other plant and equipment. As an example, all guard railing must have a top rail which has a height not less than 900mm and no greater than 1100mm with a mid rail that is no more than 450mm from the top rail. However if the slope or pitch of the roof is greater than 12° a second mid rail or infill panel should be installed. If the roof pitch is greater than 25° the vertical height of the guard railing should be increased to 1200mm. It is vital that when designing a permanent roof mounted guard railing system that it complies with AS1657:2018. By engaging a professional height safety company who understands these requirements you can feel confident that the end result will be a compliant and safe guard rail system.
Does a guard railing need toe board to comply?
This is an interesting question that often people have trouble with. Section 4.6 of AS1567 states that, “Where an object could fall from a platform or landing onto an area to which access by persons is available, a toeboard in accordance with the requirements of Clause 6.1.2 shall be provided.” That all seems quite straight forward, but where the confusion starts is when the guard railing is on a roof. If there are walkways underneath the roof line and guard railing is installed along the edge, many scopes will state that toeboard complying with AS1657 must be installed. The problem with this is that for it to comply the bottom edge of the toeboard must be no higher than 10mm from the roof surface. As most roof profiles have at least a 40mm deep rib, this becomes impossible. In saying this, if you did install a toeboard that was within 10mm of the roof surface, it would cause major water issues, with water backing up along the roof and more than likely entering back into the building during heavy rain. Therefore while it is possible to install toeboard along a metal roof, it won’t technically comply with AS1657 and can’t be made to. Our recommendation is that where there is a potential for objects to be kicked off a roof and onto persons below, that toeboard is install along the top of the roof profile rib. This will provide a certain level of protection while at the same time put other safe guards in place such as all tools being attached to workers via lanyards.
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