Handrail versus Guardrail
Many people use the terms handrail and guardrail interchangeably, but are they different?
Handrail: A handrail is a rail which provides a handhold on a platform, walkway, stairway or step ladder. Essentially handrails help with stability so people do not slip or misplace their footing and fall down the stairs or fall while on a platform.
Guardrail: A guardrail is a structure to prevent persons from falling off a platform, walkway or landing. Sometimes a handrail will form part of a guardrail and this may confuse some people about their different functions. A handrail only needs to be secure enough to provide stability and a continuous guide along a stair or platform, whereas a guardrail must be strong enough to resist breaking if a person falls or pushes on it.
Structural Strength of Guardrails
Structural standards specify guardrails must sustain a point load force outward or downward of approximately 55kg anywhere along the guardrail, or 33kg per metre.