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2018 OSHA Regs: Ladder Cages No Longer Fall Protection Compliant Beginning Nov. 19, 2018

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IMPORTANT REMINDER: As described in this post, new OSHA regulations for fixed ladders take effect next quarter – November 19, 2018.

Ladder Cages will NOT qualify as a safety system on fixed ladders of 24′ or taller installed after November 18, 2018.

If you are wondering when a fixed ladder requires fall protection, which forms of ladder fall protection are OSHA compliant, or if ladder cages still comply with OSHA’s revised regulations, we have just the post for you.

If you examine the latest regulations, you’ll note that OSHA 1910.28(b)(9) requires General Industry employers to provide fall protection on fixed ladders of 24′ or taller installed on or after November 19, 2018. Personal fall protection systems like Latchways® Vertical Ladder Lifeline Kits will be REQUIRED on new installations meeting these parameters.

From a best practices standpoint, we have never been fans of ladder cages because they don’t arrest falls.  You can strike your head during a fall, lose consciousness, and create an extremely difficult rescue scenario for first responders.  There are also cases of gruesome entanglements where falling workers tear off body parts during a rapid, uncontrolled descent.

Prior to the new ruling, OSHA (Construction Standards – 1926.1053(a)(18) required the use of cages, wells, ladder safety devices, or self-retracting lifelines for fixed ladders of 24 feet or taller.

OSHA’s new ruling was designed, in part, to create more uniformity between the General Industry and Construction standards.

The revised ruling also created a framework to phase out the use of ladder wells and cages on ladders already in-use.

The revised ruling establishes a phase out of ladder wells and cages over the next 20 years per OSHA 1910.128(b)(9)(i).   Below are implementation details and dates:

  • For caged, fixed ladders erected before November 19, 2018, employers have up to 20 years to install ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems (1910.28(b)(9)(i)(A))
  •  For new fixed ladders erected on or after November 19,2018, the employer must equip the ladder with a ladder safety or personal fall arrest system (1910.28(b)(9)(i)(B))
  •  For ladder repairs and replacements, when an employer replaces any portion of a fixed ladder, the replacement must be equipped with a ladder safety or personal fall arrest system (1910.28(b)(9)(i)(C))
  • After November 18, 2036 all fixed ladders must be equipped with a ladder safety or personal fall arrest system (1910.28(b)(9)(i)(D))

Important Note:  The revised ruling doesn’t require removal of ladder cages and wells prior to the final deadline (provided their presence doesn’t interfere with the use of a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system). However, the new regulations stipulate that after the phase-out period, alternative forms of ladder fall protection are required to ensure compliance.

This post briefly discusses how the new OSHA regulations affect fixed ladder fall protection options, but the revised Walking-Working Surfaces Ruling is over 500 pages in length and covers a wide range of additional topics relating to ladders.

To receive a summary of the new fall protection regulations, we suggest downloading our e-book on this subject, or you can contact the safety professionals at Diversified Fall Protection for further assistance.

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Did You Know?

Rigid rail fall arrest systems are often ideal for applications with low fall clearance distances?