What Makes A Guardrail Compliant with AS 1657:2018


Understanding exactly what makes a guardrail compliant with the current Australian Standards is key to ensuring the installation is safe and fit for use. Anchor Safe installs thousands of meters of permanent fall prevention guard rails every year throughout Australia, ensuring complete compliance and safety for our clients. We’ve taken our expert understanding of guardrail compliance and detailed it below. 

Definition: A guardrail is a form of edge protection installed to prevent falls from a raised platform, walkway, rooftop or floor. Typically constructed from aluminium for strength and longevity, a guardrail can be installed as a permanent height safety system or erected temporarily and removed after work has been completed.

Related Article; Temporary vs Permanent Roof Guardrails

An AS 1657:2018 compliant guardrail and walkway system provides safe access on a rooftop


Understanding Australian Standard 1657:2018

The Australian Standard 1657:2018 outlines the specifications for the design, construction, and installation of fixed platforms, walkways, stairways, and ladders. Compliance with this standard is crucial for all temporary and permanently mounted height safety guardrail systems. Non-compliance can lead to safety risks, legal repercussions, and damage to a business’s reputation. 

Australian Standard 1657:2018 is the guiding force in the design of all Anchor Safe guardrail systems. As leaders within the height safety industry, we provide clarity and confidence to our clients on exactly what a guardrail system’s specifications and installation must be to meet compliance.


Guardrail Requirements for Rooftops

Minimum Height: Guardrail height must be at least 900mm from the walking surface. For roofs with a pitch of 25° or more, the guardrail height must be increased to 1200mm.

Distance Between Rails: The distance between top, mid and bottom rails or toe-boards should not exceed 450mm

Distance Between Posts: The maximum span between vertical posts should not exceed 2000mm

Load Rating: The guardrail must be capable of sustaining a force of 600 N without deflecting by more than 100mm. A toeboard must be capable of sustaining a force of 100 N without deflecting by more than 30mm or creating a gap greater than 10mm.

Design: The guardrail must provide unrestricted movement of the user’s hand along the upper rail with no sharp edges or other features that could cause injury to the user.

Toeboards: A toeboard is required if an object can fall from a platform or walkway onto an area below unless exclusion zones are in place. A toeboard height must be at least 100mm from the walking surface. Where no toeboard is installed, the clear space between the lowest rail and the floor should not exceed 560mm. 

Pitch Considerations: Guardrails are mandatory for areas adjacent to walking areas with a pitch of 12° or more. For roofs with a pitch of 12° or more, a third rail (mid-rail or infill panel) is necessary.

Installation: Installation must be completed by a qualified person with the required knowledge, skills, training and equipment regarding the system components. Installation is to be according to manufacturer requirements and in accordance with AS 1657:2018 Standards. 

Certification: Certification by an accredited height safety certifier must be obtained and renewed annually in order for the guardrail system to be deemed compliant.


Technical drawing showing compliance specifications for roof mounted guardrails

.Technical drawing showing compliance specifications for roof mounted guardrails


Guardrail Requirements for Platforms & Suspended Walkways 

All of the requirements for roof guardrails are also relevant for platforms and suspended walkways with the following caveats; 

Where the fall height from a platform is significant or where persons on the platform may be subjected to wind forces, it is desirable to increase the height of the guardrail to at least 1000 mm to provide a greater sense of security to persons on the exposed platforms.

Platforms Over 1000mm in Width: Guardrail height must be at least 900mm from the walking surface.

Platforms Under 1000mm in Width: Guardrail height must be at least 1200mm from the walking surface.

Suspended Walkway: A suspended walkway (catwalk or gantry) must provide a minimum of 550mm between the innermost sections of the guardrails on either side



Technical drawing showing compliance specifications for guardrails on platforms and suspended walkways

An Achor Safe team member installing rooftop guardrails

Common Mistakes and Misconceptions

  1. Assuming that any barrier or railing can serve as a guardrail. Guardrails have specific design and strength requirements to ensure they can prevent falls effectively.
  2. Overlooking the importance of toeboards. Toeboards prevent tools and other objects from falling and potentially injuring people working below.
  3. Assuming that a single guardrail design is suitable for all applications. Every working at heights scenario is different and a “one size fits all” approach can lead to inadequate fall prevention and lack of compliance.
  4. Viewing the Australian Standards 1657:2018 as mere suggestions rather than mandatory requirements. Non-compliance can lead to legal repercussions, financial penalties, and increased risk of accidents.
  5. Thinking that temporary or short-term work scenarios don’t require guardrails. Even short-term exposure to height risks necessitates proper safety measures, including guardrails.
  6. Assuming that old guardrail installations still meet current standards. The standards and best practice interpretations of them have evolved. Many older installations might need updates or replacements to remain compliant.
  7. Assuming that just having guardrails is enough to ensure complete safety. Guardrails are just one component in ensuring height safety. Proper training, signage, and other height safety systems may also be necessary.

Consult with the professionals

Unsure if your guardrail systems are up to compliance standards? Reach out to us and have our expert team advise you on the exact requirements for your specific site and use scenarios.

Why Choose Us?

  • We understand the nuances of guardrail installation in accordance with AS 1657:2018, ensuring accuracy in every detail.
  • We’re trained and experienced in spotting potential hazards that others might overlook.
  • Proper installation of a quality and compliant system will provide long-term safety and compliance with minimal ongoing costs.
  • We stay informed about any changes or updates to the standards to give our clients ongoing confidence in their compliance.
  • We genuinely care for the safety of workers and we’re committed to keeping workers and rooftops safe, always.

Contact the team

Three members of Anchor Safe's height safety team on a commercial rooftop

About Anchor Safe

Anchor Safe is a proven and respected name in accredited height safety across Australia. Driven by a dedicated team of highly experienced height safety specialists, Anchor Safe is the 1st choice of Councils, Facility Managers, and Retail to ensure they meet safety compliance standards and their rooftops are kept safe.


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