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Guard Definition and Requirements


Guards are in place to prevent accidental falls. They are generally not required unless there is a 30″ drop – which may vary by local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).

In residential applications, the guard height minimum is 36″. On a stair, since handrail must be between 34″ and 38″, the handrail and the top of the guard can be one and the same.

In commercial applications, the IBC requires a minimum height of 42″. On stairs, once there is a 30″ drop, both a handrail and a guard will be required with the guard at a minimum height of 42″ and the handrail placed between 34″ and 38″ above the nosing.

4″ sphere rule – no opening large enough to pass a 4″ sphere is permitted.
Exceptions: 4-3/8″ opening on stairs and 6″ opening in the triangular area between a bottom rail and tread.

opening limitation

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