Why do I need my guardrail inspecting?

By Steve Kilpin, Recertification Manager, Safesite Limited

When speaking to customers about the need to have their fall protection systems inspected annually, most understand why fall arrest systems such as lifelines need to be recertified, but I'm often questioned about why collective protection such as guardrails should be recertified.

The question is understandable; after all a lifeline system is based on moving components so there’s more chance of something going wrong, especially when you take general wear and tear into account.  So it stands to reason that you’d want to make sure all the components for these types of system, including PPE such as harnesses and lanyards, are in full working order.   If a fall happens then you can be confident that the system will arrest the fall. 

Guardrails on the other hand just sit on a roof. There are no moving parts (unless it’s a collapsible system), so what can go wrong?  Have a look at the following photographs and imagine someone falling against this guardrail system.  Now ask yourself that question again.

Top rail of guardrail not secured






Unsafe Guardrail fixing







Partial edge protection system














Companies are legally required to ensure that fall protection systems are tested and recertified annually by a competent person. 

Even though guardrails do not undergo the same demands as a moving user participant system, they still need to be inspected regularly to make sure they are still performing as intended.  These systems are designed to prevent someone from accessing the edge of a roof and, if someone does fall against the system you need to be confident that they’ll withstand the impact of that fall….and the only way to be confident is to have the system inspected annually by a competent person.

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