Roof Guardrail Lay-Outs: Why Outriggers Are Important

Fiberglass Strut Reading Roof Guardrail Lay-Outs: Why Outriggers Are Important 3 minutes Next Connect Safe Portable Truss Anchor

Installing roof guardrail is a quick and effective way to keep your team responsible for inspection, maintenance, and repair safe. Although installation is relatively simple, planning the layout configuration of a roof guardrail system does require care.

One of the most common installation mistakes we see is a straight run of rooftop safety guardrail without “outriggers.” So, what are outriggers, and why are they important?

Outriggers serve as counterweights that minimize sliding or moving due to wind or impact by a falling employee. To create an outrigger, place a short, terminal piece of guardrail perpendicular to the straight run as shown in the illustration below. Please note that outriggers are required at each end of a continuous roof guardrail system, as well as at each end of any interruption of a continuous guardrail system. It’s also essential to position the outrigger base plate so that the long direction of the base plate is parallel to the outrigger railing.


Once a client studies the illustration above and understands why weighted base guardrail systems typically require outriggers, they ask if creating a counterweight at the end of a straight guardrail run is an OSHA requirement.

Although there are no specific regulations mentioning outriggers or outrigger use, OSHA 1910.29(b)(3) DOES requires guardrail systems to be “capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 200 pounds applied in a downward or outward direction within 2 inches of the top edge, at any point along the top rail.”  OSHA 1910.29(b)(5) also requires mid-rails to be capable of withstanding 150 pounds of force in any direction, along any point of the intermediate member.  

 Depending on the design and weight of the base plates, a straight run of guardrail without outriggers may not meet the 200 lb. top rail and 150 lb. mid-rail load requirements. For these reasons, most guardrail manufacturers require the use of outriggers to ensure an appropriate safety factor, and OSHA compliance, even though OSHA doesn’t specifically broach the subject.

If you have any further questions regarding outriggers or roof safety railing, please contact our team, and we’ll be happy to offer further assistance. If you are on a tight project deadline, be sure to ask your sales representative for details on our Guardrail Quick Ship Program.