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Railings and handrails

According to the French Building Federation and the rules and standards of metalworkers

Guardrail terminology


Is a railing consists of thin pieces repeated in the form of balusters and overhung by a plate.


Usually a barrier refers to an element that separates spaces, but not necessarily to avoid falling into the void (as opposed to a balustrade).

Suivant la norme EN 13200-3 une barrière est constituée d'éléments de structures qui sont utilisée pour éviter les chutes ou pour arrêter ou orienter le public.

Railings and handrails

A Guardrail is a collective protective device or structure designed to prevent falls or accidental entry into dangerous areas by people who are or are moving nearby, without preventing them from entering or passing through.

Service guardrail:

These are the guardrails used in other situations, generally on industrial sites, docks, roads and highways.

Guardrails for pedestrians:

These are guardrails used along the road which are not closed to public circulation.

Crawling guardrail:

Protective structure erected at the edge or at the end of the staircase steps (stair railing)


Low, simple walls, usually in a zigzag pattern, which are used to protect the edges of towers, perimeter walls, drawbridges or high firing positions that form guardrails in buildings or structures.


The main function of a stair handrail is safety and guidance.

Therefore, people who are blind or partially sighted or even the elderly will be able to move on stairs, descend and climb in a safe environment.

All establishments open to the public must be equipped with handrails.

Railing = guardrail:

Implantation areas:

Guardrails can be installed in a horizontal plane, on a roof, floor, balcony, ramp, platform or at the slope line of stairs.

Application of guardrails:

The guardrails are works intended for the protection of people which performs two functions, first the protection of falls into a vacuum and then the maintenance via handrails to facilitate access to the various places where they are installed.

The guardrails differ from the places of installation depending on whether they are installed in homes, in public buildings, in workplaces or on works of art such as bridges, footbridges… ..and others.

Guardrails in housingare defined by standard NF P 01-012, it is recommended to also apply the recommendations of the ANAH sheet to reduce the causes of falls.

Guardrails for private pools are also subject to regulatory requirements.

Installation locations




Living space, balconies and terraces

Decree 2002-120

P01-012 Eurocode-1


Private swimming pools

Decree 2004-499

NF P90-306

Guardrails for spaces open to the public:

The decree of June 25, 1980 (article 17), stipulates that the guardrails installed in places open to the public and the guardrails installed around these buildings must comply with the provisions of standard NF P 01-012. It is this same document which describes that the guardrail obligation does not apply in front of performance stages.

Installation locations




accessible to the public

Decree of June 25, 1980 (art.AM17)

P01-012 Eurocode 1


Grandstands and stadiums

Decree of June 25, 1980 (art.X9)

P01-012 , EN 13200-3

The decree of June 25, 1980 - article 17, stipulates that the guardrails installed in places open to the public and the guardrails installed around these buildings must comply with the provisions of standard NF P 01-012. It is this same document which describes that the guardrail obligation does not apply in front of performance stages.

Guardrails in the workplace:

The labor law clearly states that it is compulsory to protect workers against the risk of falling during work. However, we must differentiate:

Requirements for Guardrails:

These two categories of guardrail come under two distinct regulations: one specific to the protection against the fall of any type of public, the other to the securing of a dangerous zone to limit its access or to protect the personnel from operation or maintenance of a possible fall.

Installation locations





MOT (art. R4214-2, R4214-5)

Circular DRT 95-07

NF P01-012

Eurocode 1



MOT (art. L4311-1, R4214-14)

ISO 14122-3


C h giving access to machines

MOT (art. R4214-14)

E 85-015


Technical roofs / terraces

MOT (art. R4224-8, R4214-14)

NF E 85-015

Guardrails of engineering structures:

Guardrails for bridges and structures do not belong to the construction industry, so they will not be described in detail here. However, the table "Use of bridges and structures"

A summary of the main applicable requirements.

Sizing of balustrades and guardrails:

The sizing of the metal handrail (guardrail) depends mainly on:

- Material resistance calculations according to the construction rules in force.

Among the applicable construction rules, the Eurocodes specify the rules for calculating structures, in particular with regard to structural strength. Excluding guardrails, they are not included as structural elements and are therefore not directly affected by the Eurocode calculation rules. However, for reasons of consistency and in the absence of other more appropriate calculation rules, the Eurocode calculation principle is retained, being limited to the relevant part of the guardrail. In fact, given the stress on the guardrail (simple bending) and the assumption that the elastic limit is not exceeded, European regulations do not require verification. Only a payload factor of 3/2 (for steel) should be taken into account.

Guardrail corrosion prevention systems:

There are few formal and precise prescriptions relating to the protection against corrosion of the guardrail.

As a rule, there are no corrosion protection standards for them. However, the type of sealing (fasteners) of the guardrails must take into account the possible effect of corrosion on the corrosion resistance of the structure and the fasteners.

Standard NF E 85-015 requires that the materials used must have their properties or undergo an additional treatment to resist corrosion. This is the only clear requirement, which is a specification requirement only related to industrial guardrails.

Although there are no formal and precise regulations on corrosion protection, it remains crucial for maintaining its structure. In fact, due to corrosion, the structural strength of railings can be deteriorated.

Railing fixings:

Guardrail ties are safety ties with no structural applications, they must meet strict standards, requiring manufacturers to have CE certification and marking.

In general, anchors and bolts must be protected in the same way as the structure.

According to ETAG guidelines, any safety anchor used outdoors must be made of stainless steel.


1. The standards: guardrails accessible to the public are NF P 01-012 and NF P01-013, NF P 06-111-2

This concerns guardrails in the following types of buildings and their surroundings:

- apartment buildings

- office buildings

- commercial buildings

- school buildings

- industrial buildings

- agricultural buildings

- other buildings open to the public

For certain specific buildings, additional requirements may be set.

2. Guardrails (OBLIGATIONS):

The installation of a guardrail is compulsory according to standard NF P 01-012 if the drop height is greater than 1 m.

The NF P 01-012 standard determines the minimum rules to ensure the prevention of accidental or unintentional falls. Guardrails that meet these minimum requirements must be completed if you want to prevent intentional falls and falls caused by child neglect. Remember that the responsibility for these actions must always be borne by those who hold the decision-making power.

  1. New residential buildings

    The guardrails are devices for restraining people for windows, stairs, loggias, balconies, and must be in a state of conformity for their use according to the decree N ° 2002-120 of 30/01/2002.

    Guardrails must be sized to withstand operating loads and comply with the applicable safety geometry, therefore standard NF P 01-012 becomes mandatory.

    These texts do not apply to owners who occupy their homes, whether individual or collective.

    Windows for apartment buildings built after 1955 there is an obligation to install window protections when their lower parts are located less than 0.90 m from the floor. These protections can be handrails or guardrails so that the protection is more than 1 m from the upper surface of the finished floor. For ground floors or even below:

    Private parties: the guardrails located inside the accommodation, the NF P 01-012 standard does not apply. However, it is recommended to comply with the standard even in these situations.

    Swimming pools: the guardrails of private swimming pools are governed by specific regulations.

  2. Buildings open to the public and new offices; see Article AM17- 25/06/1980 which makes the geometric dimensioning of guardrails compulsory according to the specifications defined as well as compliance with standard NF P 01-012.

    Office buildings: According to Art. R4214-2 and R4214-5 of the CT there is an obligation to protect glazed surfaces, raised openings and roofs as well as all provisions of standard NF P 01-012.

  3. Existing buildings: the NF P 01-012 standard does not concern historic monuments and the replacement of equivalents made on old buildings.

    In the case of replacement on a facade while designing the architecture of the latter, the elements can be replaced identically.

    However, it is recommended that the replacement and modification of the guardrails comply with standard NF P 01-012.

3. Heights and protections:

  1. Normal parking

    The height H changes according to the thicknesses E - see NF P01 012

    The heights of window guardrails in residential buildings are defined by Art. R.111-15 of the CCH according to their thicknesses are; 1 m for thicknesses less than 0.50 m and 0.80 m for thicknesses equal to or greater than 0.50 m.

    Warning: The calculations of the thickness of the guardrails established by the Construction Code and standard NF P 01-012 are different. Consequently, the application of standard NF P 01-012 may result in the creation of guardrails that do not comply with the Construction Code.

  2. A so-called precarious parking is by a guardrail of reduced height, i.e. 0.90 m, for thicknesses E greater than 0.40 m, see the table above.

  3. In kneeling areas, guardrails must meet a protective height H measured from their highest points, which must not be less than 0.50 m.

4. Other dimensional specifications:

  1. Vertical and horizontal elements

    The horizontal dimensions of the voids between bars, facade panels and switchboards which have a vertical dimension greater than the horizontal, must be ≤ 0.11 m

    If the guardrails have their horizontal dimension is greater than the vertical, the space between the bars is 0.11 m for those which are at 0.45 m according to the normal zone and ≤ 0.18 m for those located at a height greater than or equal to 0.45 m.

  2. Composition and elements

    The spaces between elements must not allow a template of 0.25 mx 0.11 m to pass through regardless of the orientation of the guardrail.

    For protruding guardrails, the horizontal spacing of the lower elements of the guardrail and the projecting horizontal surface of the balcony or sill must be ≥ 0.05 m.

5. Special cases:

  1. Risks of escalation

    Risks are not explicitly addressed by standard NF P 01-012. Therefore, the rules to be followed are uncertain. However, when guardrails are required to prevent accidental falls, it is necessary to supplement them to meet these minimum requirements.

    • Horizontal rails at the bottom of the guardrails of less than 45 cm should be provided to deter children from climbing. If the customer requests this design, it is recommended to reduce their spacings to less than 5cm to 3cm.
    • When the filling consists of an oblique stitch, the space between the stitches must not allow a template 5 cm long and 3 cm horizontally to pass, see - 2.3.2; NF P 01 012.
  2. Precarious support (Special cases)

    Permissible inclination:

    According to NF P 01-012, a precarious support can be called if its inclination is ≥ 30 ° in spaces and directions.

    Cables are precarious supports and are prohibited in areas with a height of less than 0.45 m for protective guardrails of 1 m.

    In an area with height ≤ 0.45 m, the distance between the cables must comply with NF P 01-012. Therefore, it is recommended to use a spacing between 11cm and 14.5cm depending on the stiffness of the cables instead of 18cm.

    For forged irons, support is precarious if a 10 cm by 5 cm template can be introduced horizontally. The braces are precarious if their inclination is ≤ 45 ° and if a template of 10 cm by 5 cm can be introduced.

    A French window threshold is precarious when it is ≥ 0.60 m from a guardrail, this also applies to the guardrail returns.

6. Guardrails: filling with glass products


See NF P01-012; NF P01-013 and FD DTU 39 P5

See N ° 3566 of CSTB October 2006 and DTU 39 P5

See NF P 01-013; NF EN ISO 12543-2; NF EN 12600

See DTU 39 P5 and P 08-302

See CSTB notebook N ° 3034 April 1998

See CSTB booklet N ° 3574

7. Tolerances:

In terms of dimensions resulting from the installation of guardrails and the geometry of the surrounding structures, the NF P 01-012 standard authorizes the deviations as follows:

In manufacture, the permissible deviations in dimensions between the components of the guardrail due to manufacture or assembly are as follows:

8. Operating expenses:

According to NF P 06-111-2 03/2009

The size of the guardrail post (uprights) is determined in relation to the horizontal load according to standard NF P 06-111-2, which indicates that the point of theoretical application of the load must be at 1.0 m more higher than the area of ​​passionately normal. This allows the horizontal force to be positioned below the height of the armrest. The applied height Hc of the load does not necessarily correspond to the height H of the guardrail protection required by standard NF P 01 012

The size of the handrail of a guardrail should be relative to the horizontal load and the vertical operating load.

9. Filling dynamics (checks):

The NF P 01-013 standard which defines the dynamic test stipulates that the dynamic test is applicable to all types of guardrails, but the dynamic test must only be carried out if previous tests have not tested the safety system. filling or strengthening. NF P 01-013 refers to standard NF P 08-301

The tests are carried out on the main part of the guardrail (bars, rails, panels, etc.). It includes subjecting guardrail elements to impacts represented by the swinging drop of the impact body.

Two impact bodies are defined as follows:

The test is made by throwing the ball with a force 3.75 J from a height of 0.75 m. This test is only applicable for filler plates


NF P01-012 -1988: Dimensions of guardrails

NF P01-013 - 1988: Guardrail tests

NF P08-301 - 1991: Impact resistance tests

NF P06-111-2 - 2004: Eurocode 1

Dec. 2002-120 01/30/2002

DTU 39 P5 / 2012: Building works

CCH Art. R111-1 -.- R111-17: General construction rules

Art. R.111-15 - CCH

CSC / 2010: Window and balcony security

CSC Notice 10/2005

AM 1980 - Book II - Art. AM1 to AM20

Decree 06/25/80: Art. AM 17

CT Art. R4214-1 -.- R4214-8: Characteristics of buildings

Art. CT R4214-2 / ​​R4214-5

Circular of 12/13/1982: Peoples' security

Circular of 13 /120/1982 Section II

Circular DRT 95-07: 04/14/1995 - Workplaces

CSTB 3034 - April 1998 - Guardrail in glass products

CSTB 3574 notebook

NF P01-012 - 1988 - Dimensions of guardrails

DGUHC 2004-16 - 2004

NF P06-111-2 - 2004 -: Eurocode1 - Part 2: Annex NF EN 1991-1-1 + A1 - 2009

ANAH FHS - from 2009

Decree of 24 - 2004 - decree n ° 92-647

Decree 2002-120 - 2002

Order (AM) - of 1980 - Book II - Art. AM1 to AM20

DRT 95-07 - from 1995

EN ISO 14122-3 - Part 3

NF E85-015 - from 2008 - Stairs, step ladders and guardrails

NF P01-013 - from 1988 - Guardrail tests

NF EN 1991-1-1 - from 2003 - Eurocode 1 / 1-1

NF P06-111-2 - from 2004 - : Eurocode 1 - 2 : Annex NF EN 1991-1-1

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