Guardrail Height Requirements for OSHA

Written by marjorie gilbert
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Guardrail Height Requirements for OSHA
Guardrails are necessary on elevated walkways. (road bridge image by les sanders from

Guardrails are necessary on raised walkways. The guardrail's purpose is to keep people from falling off the walkway and injuring themselves. This is a particular concern in places of business where both employees and the public have access to the building and walkways--not only due to insurance concerns but also possible law suits. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates the height of guardrails.

Height of Elevated Walkway

You are required to have a guardrail when the walkway is 30 feet above the ground, according to OSHA. This will help protect the people on the walkway.

BOCA Required Height

According to the Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA), all guardrails must be between 36 and 42 inches high.

Southern Building Code Height

According to the Southern Building Code, the height of the guardrail must be 42 inches high. However, if the guardrails are in a residential setting, they must be 36 inches high.

BOCA Vertical Addendums

According to BOCA, the guardrails have a supplemental vertical element as well. Like handrails, the guardrails must have pickets that are spaced no more than four inches apart.

Southern Building Code: Bottom Rail Curb

According to the Southern Building Code, the guardrail must have a bottom rail curb no more than two inches from the ground.

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