A Guide to Fixed Ladder Safety
It’s easy to take fixed ladders for granted. Their construction and implementation mean they are often so well-integrated with your work environment that you can forget about them until you need to lose them. While their installation and stability can decrease the risks associated with mobile ladders, these specialized tools still require their own safety guidelines and implementation. Fixed ladder safety guidelines are put in place by OSHA.
Long-anticipated rules changes were put in place by OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard on January 17, 2017. This rule change affects all general industries and revises guidelines for fall protection systems and other safety features. In particular, this rule change eliminated the use of cages as acceptable fall protection systems. The key changes implemented affecting fixed ladder safety regulations include:
- Each fixed ladder that extends more than 24′ above a lower level that is installed before November 19, 2018, should be equipped with a personal fall arrest system, cage or well. The height at which a form of fall protection was required was previously 20′. This has now been increased to 24′.
- All fixed ladders (that extend more than 24 feet) installed on and after November 19, 2018, is equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system. Please note that cages sold or installed after November 19, 2018 are no longer considered a form of fall protection. Cages installed prior to this date are still accepted as a form of protection (until the final deadline comes into effect). We feel that it is important to note that whilst cages are still allowed to be sold until November 19th, 2018, we as a company will be pro-actively informing people of these changes immediately.
- When a fixed ladder, cage, or well, or any portion of a section thereof, is replaced (on and after November 18, 2018), 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.
- On and after November 18th 2036, all fixed ladders (that extend more than 24 feet) should be equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system. Although this is 20 years away, from prior experience the market typically adopts these changes quickly. November 18th 2036 is the final deadline that no cages are allowed as a form of fall protection.
As the industry adapts to these changes, it is crucial that you ensure all aspects of your ladder safety approach are supporting safe worker operation and behaviors.
Restrict Access to Qualified Personnel
To protect your business, workers, and regular people, you must keep your roof access equipment locked down. Restricting access to qualified personnel who have passed your safety training regimen and are certified in the use of your site’s fall protection equipment is paramount to preventing injuries and worse. You can’t guard your worksite ladders 24/7 though. This is where solutions such as a ladder guard come in. These options for fixed ladders affix over the lower portion of the ladder body and are locked in place to deter use by removing access to rungs and handholds. By locking up at the end of a shift, the risk of an intruder gaining access to your worksite heights is greatly reduced.
Protect Workers from Falls
With ladder guards in place, you can reduce your business’ liability risks and risk to the public. But you have to protect your workers’ health as well. Smart implementation of robust fall arrest protection systems can save your workers from catastrophic injuries or even death due to falls. Numerous types of fall protection systems exist and are highly specialized for different applications. Many can integrate directly with your fixed ladder as well.
No single solution can meet the needs for all safety sites. It’s important to adapt your ladders and associated safety products to meet your location’s needs. Modular solutions, such as FIXFAST USA’s KATTCLIMB line of products, offer easily customizable function and consistently high quality. Available with accessories such as ladder guards and integrated fall arrest protection systems, a KATTCLIMB fixed ladder can integrate easily with your rooftop safety solutions to offer robust protection throughout your entire site.
Ready to find the customized safety solution to keep your business and people safe? Contact us to schedule a consultation.