Vertical Lifelines and Ladder Systems

Vertical Lifeline and Ladder Systems

Each year, countless numbers of workers lose footing while carrying tools and materials up ladders due to the presence of grease, mud, snow, ice and water.   Sadly, many of these ladder related accidents are preventable with the use of a vertical lifeline and a rope grab system.  A vertical lifeline allows movement up and down the entire height of the line, eliminating the need to disconnect and find a new tie-off points while ascending or descending from a tower or ladder. By connecting to the vertical lifeline using a “rope grab” deceleration device, users may move as long as tension is slack on the lifeline. In the event of a fall, the rope grab automatically engages the vertical lifeline and locks, arresting the fall and potentially saving a life.

A Vertical Lifeline is integrated within a ladder.
A Vertical Lifeline is integrated within a ladder.
A comprehensive ladder system includes a cage and Vertical Lifeline
Vertical Lifelines and Ladder Systems
Vertical Lifelines and Ladder Systems
Vertical Lifelines and Ladder Systems
Vertical Lifelines and Ladder Systems
ladder safety system

Diversified Fall Protection  a complete turnkey provider of OSHA compliant vertical lifeline systems.  Contact us for expert assistance with your fall arrest, fall restraint and fall protection safety requirements.

Design Considerations

Vertical Lifeline and Ladder System Design Considerations Although OSHA regulations do not require the use of a vertical lifeline, all fixed ladders over 24 feet in height require a cage.  Ladder cages consist of a series of circular safety hoops and vertical steel bars fastened to the stiles.  Although ladder cages may impart a sense of safety, they are not designed to arrest falls; ladder cage systems merely prevent worker falling backwards.  In the event of a fall directly down without regaining a grip, a worker can sustain serious injury or easily injure others below on the ladder. For these reasons, we recommend a vertical lifeline as part of every permanent structural ladder design. Whether your facility uses permanent ladder systems, portable ladders, or a combination of both, DFP fall protection engineers can help identify your ladder fall hazards, make specific recommendations to increase the safety of your ladder systems, and implement a safety and training program to ensure worker safety and OSHA compliance. Vertical Lifeline Articles

OSHA Regulations

  • OSHA Considerations
    • 1910.23(d)  Fixed ladders. The employer must ensure:
    • 1910.23(d)(1)  Fixed ladders are capable of supporting their maximum intended load;
    • 1910.23(d)(2)  The minimum perpendicular distance from the centerline of the steps or rungs, or grab bars, or both, to the nearest permanent object in back of the ladder is 7 inches (18 cm), except for elevator pit ladders, which have a minimum perpendicular distance of 4.5 inches (11 cm);
    • 1910.23(d)(3)  Grab bars do not protrude on the climbing side beyond the rungs of the ladder that they serve;
    • 1910.23(d)(4)  The side rails of through or sidestep ladders extend at least 42 inches (1.1 m) above the top of the access level or landing platform served by the ladder. For parapet ladders, the access level is:
    • 1910.23(d)(4)(i)  The roof, if the parapet is cut to permit passage through the parapet; or
    • 1910.23(d)(5)  For through ladders, the steps or rungs are omitted from the extensions, and the side rails are flared to provide not less than 24 inches (61cm) and not more than 30 inches (76 cm) of clearance. When a ladder safety system is provided, the maximum clearance between side rails of the extension must not exceed 36 inches (91 cm);
    • 1910.23(d)(6)  For side-step ladders, the side rails, rungs, and steps must be continuous in the extension (see Figure D-2 of this section);
    • 1910.23(d)(7)  Grab bars extend 42 inches (1.1 m) above the access level or landing platforms served by the ladder;
    • 1910.23(d)(8)  The minimum size (cross-section) of grab bars is the same size as the rungs of the ladder.
    • 1910.23(d)(9)  When a fixed ladder terminates at a hatch (see Figure D-3 of this section), the hatch cover:
    • 1910.23(d)(9)(i)  Opens with sufficient clearance to provide easy access to or from the ladder; and
    • 1910.23(d)(9)(ii)  Opens at least 70 degrees from horizontal if the hatch is counterbalanced;
    • 1910.23(d)(10)  Individual-rung ladders are constructed to prevent the employee's feet from sliding off the ends of the rungs (see Figure D-4 of this section);
    • 1910.23(d)(11)  Fixed ladders having a pitch greater than 90 degrees from the horizontal are not used;
    • 1910.23(d)(12)  The step-across distance from the centerline of the rungs or steps is:
    • 1910.23(d)(12)(i)  For through ladders, not less than 7 inches (18 cm) and not more than 12 inches (30 cm) to the nearest edge of the structure, building, or equipment accessed from the ladders;
    • 1910.23(d)(12)(ii)  For side-step ladders, not less than 15 inches (38 cm) and not more than 20 inches (51 cm) to the access points of the platform edge;
    • 1910.23(d)(13)  Fixed ladders that do not have cages or wells have:
    • 1910.23(d)(13)(i)  A clear width of at least 15 inches (38 cm) on each side of the ladder centerline to the nearest permanent object; and
    • 1910.23(d)(13)(ii)  A minimum perpendicular distance of 30 inches (76 cm) from the centerline of the steps or rungs to the nearest object on the climbing side. When unavoidable obstructions are encountered, the minimum clearance at the obstruction may be reduced to 24 inches (61 cm), provided deflector plates are installed
    • 1910.28(b)(9)  Fixed ladders (that extend more than 24 feet (7.3 m) above a lower level).
    • 1910.28(b)(9)(i)  For fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet (7.3 m) above a lower level, the employer must ensure:
    • 1910.28(b)(9)(i)(A)  Existing fixed ladders. Each fixed ladder installed before November 19th 2018, is equipped with a personal fall arrest system, ladder safety system, cage, or well;
    • 1910.28(b)(9)(i)(B)  New fixed ladders. Each fixed ladder installed on and after November 19, 2018, is equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system;
    • 1910.28(b)(9)(i)(C)  Replacement. When a fixed ladder, cage, or well, or any portion of a section thereof, is replaced, a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system is installed in at least that section of the fixed ladder, cage, or well where the replacement is located; and
    • 1910.28(b)(9)(i)(D)  Final deadline. On and after November 18, 2036, all fixed ladders are equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system.

Did You Know?

A Horizontal Lifeline System must be engineered for two times the applied load in the event of a fall?