The Importance of Guardrail Testing

Where Should Guardrails be Installed?

Every surface to which access is provided – for reasons other than maintenance – must be protected by a guard on each side that is not protected by a wall.

Such surfaces include but are not limited to:

  • flights of steps and ramps
  • exterior landings
  • porches
  • balconies
  • mezzanines
  • galleries
  • raised walkways

Although guards are considered secondary structural elements of a building since they do not support the main structure, they are extremely important for public safety.


How Often Should Guardrails be Tested?

While there is no standard to follow, over time aluminum becomes embrittled, wood decays, and concrete spalls. A review every 3-5 years is reasonable.

What Can Happen if Guardrails are Poorly Installed and/or Not Properly Tested?

Take the unfortunate case of a 19-year-old Ontario woman who fell five stories (15 metres) onto a loading dock when the railing of her apartment balcony collapsed. The young woman luckily survived the fall, but she suffered a traumatic brain injury, multiple fractures, ligament tears and lacerations, and a loss of cognitive ability.

Now, nearly a year after the incident, she is still involved in a lawsuit against the owner of the building, due to their negligence in regularly inspecting, maintaining, and repairing the balconies.

Building owners can prevent such disasters by hiring a registered professional to regularly examine and test the guardrails.

fractured attachment  inadequate attachment            Fractured guardrail attachment                           Inadequate guardrail attachment

Conducting a Guardrail Review with Latera

Latera’s fee* for a guardrail review is $1200 + GST for a Strata, of up to 20 units, within the Lower Mainland.

Or $500 for a physical load test per guardrail, for railings thought to be a concern based on Latera’s visual review.

Please call 604-492-3304 for pricing for larger complexes.

*Fees valid for the 2016 calendar year.




APEGBC, Professional Practice Guidelines – Designing Guards for Buildings Accessed: 27 June 2016

British Columbia Building Code 2012, Division B Part 9, 9.8.8 Guards. Print.

Ottawa Citizen, Fall from balcony after railing collapses results in lawsuit Accessed: 28 June 2016

Ottawa Citizen, Woman who fell from balcony faces long recovery recovery Accessed: 28 June 2016

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