The APS Guide to Edge Protection

Edge protection is usually required when carrying out work on rooftops or raised areas, and is the best form of edge protection as it collectively protects everybody on the roof.

It used to be that any work above six feet was considered ‘work at height’ and required some form of edge protection. In recent reviews of the Work at Height Regulations, this definition has been updated, and now describes any work that takes place ‘where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.’

As such, employers and those in control of any work-at-height activity – whether on roofs or at ground level near pits – must put all precautions, including roof edge protection, in place where appropriate.

Kee Guard Roof Edge Protection

Kee Guard rooftop guardrail system by APS Safety Systems

Collective Edge Protection KeeGuard_APS_Scotland

Kee Guard Edge Protection APS Safety Systems Scotland

Roof edge protection FAQs

How far from the roof edge should fall protection be installed?

Although in other countries like the US there is a set, legal distance at which edge protection should be installed, the UK has no legally defined guidance. The distance at which your edge protection is installed will depend on a range of factors, including the system being used as well as the size and shape of the roof.

You should discuss the best location for your system with the system designer to ensure the most effective solution for you.

What is the minimum height required for roof edge protection?

According to The UK Building Regulations Part K, roof edge protection systems such as rooftop guardrails should consist of, at a minimum, two horizontal rails with a minimum height of 1100mm. 

The loading criteria described in BS 6399 part 1 1996 also requires the guardrail to withstand a uniformly distributed load of 0.74kN per metre and a point load of 0.5kN.

Kee Guard

Roof Edge Protection

How has recent legislation changed freestanding roof edge protection requirements? 

Last year, the BS 13700:2021 standard was introduced, the first piece of legislation specific to permanent freestanding edge protection. Amongst other things, it introduced clearer guidance on recertification and a requirement retroactively for wind speed calculations. 

The update updated recertification rules on roof edge protection to better ensure systems remain compliant. 

The new inspection results categories are:

  • Pass – The system meets all guidance and remains in service.
  • Conditional pass – The parts comply with the recommendations of a previous standard and do not immediately pose a safety concern. The system will remain in service, but a report and recommendations will be given to the duty holder, along with a completion date.
  • Conditional fail – The system meets the recommendations of a previous standard. However, it presents an immediate safety concern (which can be improved). The system is taken offline, but a report and recommendations will be given to the duty holder with a timeline for completion. In order to return the system to service, it will need to be inspected again.
  • Fail – The system does not comply with a previous standard and is therefore unsafe. If the system cannot be improved or repaired, the roof area will be closed to access routes and marked ‘Do not enter.

System owners are legally required to ensure edge protection is compliant, and organise a full inspection as soon as possible if one has not been performed since the introduction of BS 13700:2021.

Assuming a system is compliant because it was when it was installed, or because it has an existing certificate, is no longer sufficient, and could lead to serious trouble if an accident occurs.

All freestanding guardrail solutions supplied by APS are designed to be fully compliant to all relevant legislation. If you’re concerned about whether your existing system complies with BS 13700:2021, get in touch to book an inspection and recertification appointment with one of our engineers.