Some actors become wildly successful typecasts in roles, such as Jim Carrey for comedy, Neve Campbell for horror, Pamela Anderson as the blonde bombshell, and Keanu Reeves as the stoic hero. On the flip side, Rachel Adams and the late Christopher Plummer became known for their versatility—hero or villain, romantic comedy, musical, or intense drama. Modular, pipe-fitted railings are typecast to provide fall protection in compliance with regulations. Yet, they can also show their application versatility whether on the set, screen, or stage.

Regulations in the Lead

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan join the chorus line with various regulations specific to guardrails. In general, they specify that guardrail systems:

  • Top rail height of 36 to 42 inches (900 to 1060 mm) above the walking/working surface.
  • Mid-rail height of 18 to 22 inches (450 to 530 mm) above the walking/working surface.
  • Constructed and secured to withstand a static load of 900 Newtons (200 lb. force) applied in any direction at any point along the top rail and any intermediate rail.
  • Include a toe board at least 5 inches (125 mm) tall if there is any danger of objects falling from the work surface to a level below.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry, notably Guideline No. 21 on Working Heights, emphasizes the necessity of fall protection measures to mitigate the risks associated with working at elevated locations. According to the guidelines, guardrails play a crucial role in providing a barrier against potential falls, thereby safeguarding the well-being of personnel involved in production activities.

Supporting Cast Construction

Metal-cast railing components include a wide range of “slip-on” pipe fittings (e.g., straight, slope, swivel, in-line, base) to join metal pipes and form a safety railing system. They are readily assembled on-site using only simple tools—like a hex key—and are installed without welding or drilling. Toe boards and infills can be included for added slip and fall protection. A self-closing gate can be integrated into the guardrail system at stairs and other access points, or for crowd control.

The pipe and fittings are aluminum or galvanized steel for strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. They are easily customized to adapt to various set configurations or specific locations regardless of the unique requirements for each production. Modular railing systems can also be assembled and disassembled—or reconfigured—quickly, making them ideal for temporary sets or quick transitions between scenes.

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Where Do Railings Star In Fall Protection?

Guardrails are designed to prevent accidental falls by displaying a highly visible and tangible boundary that alerts cast and crew members to the potential hazard of working near an edge and falling. They also provide set boundaries and behind-the-scenes protection for the stunt doubles. Railings are typically used for:

  • Elevated platforms
  • Catwalks
  • Mezzanines
  • Stairs
  • Multi-level sets
  • Scaffolds
  • Rooftops
  • Camera and lighting set-ups

More Than a Bit Part for Elevated Platforms

Elevated work platforms expand upon the modular railing concept with pipe-fitted frames and guardrails plus anti-slip treads to build stairs and floorboards. Stationary or static platforms are ideal for work or set areas accessed often or that require a custom solution. Mobile platforms are equipped with heavy-duty, locking casters to move around the set or stage.

Other Behind-the-Scenes Roles

Guardrails are important for fall protection; however, the pipe-fitted components can be used to build other useful structures in the film, television, and theatre industries.

  • Sturdy frames that can be covered with fabric, flats, or other materials for backdrops and scenery.
  • Rigs to mount lighting equipment and hold stage lights, spotlights, or elaborate special effect lighting.
  • Mounts for cameras or other filming equipment that can be adapted for achieving specific camera angles or movements.
  • Supports for rigging equipment for actors, props, or scenery. They provide a reliable anchor point for harnesses and pulley systems used in aerial performances or special effects.

The Star Power of Railings

Although guardrails for film, television, and theatrical productions are common behind the scenes, they often step out front to shine in the performances. They can be built to provide anything from an old industrial ambiance or powder-coated for a futuristic look.

Pipe-fitted railings can be seen in productions of iconic films or TV shows such as, “Alien”, “Blade Runner”, “Breaking Bad”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and “Star Trek.”

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The Credits

Fall protection railings provide a physical barrier to keep people safe and enable production companies to comply with standards and regulations. They also give cast and crew members a strong sense of security so they can focus on their tasks and performances without the distraction or worry of potential hazards. This not only enhances productivity but also fosters a positive work environment conducive to creativity and collaboration.