The residential code (R312.1) requires the use of guardrails when the walking surface is elevated to 30 inches or more above the adjacent grade. The minimum height of the railing must not be less than 36 inches, except for stairs which lowers to a minimum of 34 inches.
What if the deck, porch, landing, etc., was less than 30 inches above the adjacent grade, but the ground then sloped down or dropped off significantly.
The 30 inch rule is measured from any point extending outward to three feet of the walking surface which would prevent or at least limit the distance of a fall.
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