Rope Descent over glass guardrail


Does anyone have a solution or method of rigging ropes for use with bosun chair under a guardrail? We have a glass rail that is not load bearing and need a safe method, where there is 3 inches under the rail for ropes to pass through. We know we can avoid climbing over the rail but we can have our ropes on the rail, its not load bearing.

Any suggestions?

Building owner does not want to use davits or portable outriggers, however he might not have a choice.



@Ericehlers Any suggestions?


There are lots of options but I would need more info. What is your level of training and have you done a rope transfer?
Why doesn’t the building want a mobile unit?
What are you anchoring to?
How big is the drop?
What’s above the railing? What’s below your drop?
Pictures are always helpful.


When I was doing high rise we had to walk away because the company refused to put proper rigging to do drops were the glass railing was. Theye want us to put our ropes on the glass railing.


Cleaning would be done by a large window cleaning company (Clean & Polish, Valcourt, etc). Im working with the owner to devise a method and looked here as a resource. (we will likely get window cleaners involved as well)

They do not want a mobile unit because sadly they are cheap.

Building is 10 stories, 42" rail, sidewalk below.

Just want to know if there are any safe techniques outside of what i mentioned above. This is new construction so permanent roof anchors will be installed; location TBD.


right move! not worth the risk. Most buildings spend more on Artwork than on window washing equipment.


Bottom line is you need some sort of high point to deviate the life lines over the railing. There is no free option there.


I know nothing about rope access…but why can’t they just run ropes under the rail?


Gap is to small, no gap. if you could run the line you still have safety issues with connecting rack and chair. Climbing glass railing is dangerous and safety issues with getting in to chair.


This could be possible depending on the angle of your anchor point, If you anchor point comes from a higher level then there would be upward force upon the rope and the bottom of the balustrade which is a no no. if the anchor point is lower than the bottom of the balustrade, then its doable however you need to rig up a line which allows you to safely climb over balustrade and get into chair, chair and descender could easily be put on topside. Realistically though to be up to safety standards permanent removable davit arms should be installed.


Fabricate a metal guard if you can but remember you are not an engineer. A tripod or mobile davit to get up and over if it can be set up. As a rule, we try t avoid glass handrails and never go over them as the rsik is too great. Sometimes you can put your ropes under but putting them between is also a big risk.