Permanent and Temporary Edge Protection – Part One


By Jason Godfrey, General Manager

While regulations and standards are designed to make life easier when specifying guardrailing systems, the number of regulations, standards and guidance documents can cause confusion.  Do you need to consider the Work at Height Regulations and EN 13374, Eurocode 1 EN 1991-1-1 or EN 141122-3?

In this two part Blog Series, I’m going to look at the various standards and codes and summarise the key points you need to consider when specifying guardrails for permanent or temporary edge protection.   

Edge Protection Regulations & Standards

When it comes to guardrails, there’s a plethora of regulations and standards relating to both permanent and temporary applications, for example:

  • Workplace Health Safety & Welfare Regulations 1992
  • BS 6180 Protective Barriers In and About Buildings 1999
  • The Building Regulations Part K 2013
  • HSE Specialist Inspectors Report No 15 1987
  • Eurocode 1 EN 1991-1-1 supersedes BS 6399 Part 1 Loading for Building 1996
  • Eurocode 1 EN 1991-1-4 supersedes BS 6399 Part 2 Code of Practice for Wind Loading 1997
  • Construction Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1996
  • HSE Health & Safety in Roofwork 2012
  • EN 13374 Temporary Edge Protection Systems – Product Specification, Test Methods 2013.
  • EN 14122-3 Safety of machinery. Permanent means of access to machinery, stairways, stepladders and guardrails 2010
  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005

These regulations, standards and guidance documents often cause confusion when it comes to specifying guardrails as many require different load and testing criteria.  Added to this, there isn’t a specific regulation or standard relating to cantilevered guardrails which can be used as both temporary and permanent solutions.

The following are the main areas you should refer to when specifying a guardrail system.


Guardrail specification requirements


Building Regulations Part K (Protection from falling)

Part K2 of the Building Regulations requires guarding to be provided where there are:

  • Any stairs, ramps, floors (which form part of the building) and balconies and any roof to which people have access to and
  • Any light well, basement area or similar sunken area connected to a building

Guarding such as edge protection must consist of at least two horizontal rails and have a minimum height of 1100mm.   The loading criteria is taken from Euro Code 1 EN 1991-1-1 & its UK National Annex (PD 6688.1.1) and requires the guardrail to withstand a uniformly distributed load of 1.0kN per m2 and a point load of 0.5kN.

Part K has a specific heading under the application section, “Interaction with other legislation ” which relaxes the suggested loadings where the frequency of access is low and controlled.  Clause 0.6 states, “However, there may well be particular situations, such as access for maintenance required less frequently than once a month…where such permanent features may be less appropriate. Where this may be the case the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 provides details on procedures for safe use of temporary means of access, together with focus on effective planning and management of risk.” The Building Regulations also make reference to the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The referral to the CDM Regulations requires a risk assessment to be made to ensure that the guardrail is suitable and sufficient to prevent both persons and objects from falling.


Guardrail load requirements


EN 13374

This standard relates to the design of temporary edge protection systems and requires a system to withstand loads applied perpendicular, horizontal and vertical to the system. This standard was initially introduced in 1997 and replaced the UK HSE Specialist Inspectors Report No 15 1987 and other European Standards. EN 13374 has recently been revised by Technical Committee 53, Working Group 10 (TC53/WG10) following discussions about changing the title of this European Norm to accommodate permanent counter balanced systems.  Unfortunately the change never occurred, however, in the UK National Forward there is clear reference to include such permanent counter balanced systems.

EN 13374 outlines requirements for three classes of edge protection system.

  • Class A 0-10° roof pitch
  • Class B 10-30° roof pitch
  • Class C 30-45° roof pitch

All classes have a static load requirement, and class B & C also have a dynamic load applied representing someone rolling down the roof slope and making contact with the edge protection system.

Under Clause 7.3 friction or counterbalanced systems should be tested at the maximum inclination, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The performance will vary according to the roof pitch, base material (wet or dry) and whether or not there is an upstand (restraint/edge) present.  The manufacturer must demonstrate compliance to this standard by testing the variations where they claim their products can be installed on.


Eurocode 1: Actions on Structures – Part 1-4: General Actions – Wind Loads

When edge protection is installed as a permanent systems, it should comply with appropriate wind loading criteria as outlined in Part 1-4 of Eurocode 1: Actions on Structures.

Although EN 13374 now includes a degree of wind loading assessment it has become clear that wind loading is a far more onerous force than that of a person falling against a guardrail.  As a result any professional manufacturer should provide a wind design for each and every installation dependent upon the topography, height of building and geographical location.


Next Week

In next week’s Blog I’m going to conclude this topic with a look at EN 14122-3,  the  Work at Height Regulations and where this regulation should be applied instead of the Building Regulations.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter