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Choosing the Right Roof Access Ladder for Your Business

Derek Tokarz

Derek Tokarz

Certified in Safety Management Group's Training in Fall Protection

Proper fixed ladder selection can keep you OSHA compliant and your workers safe.

Running your business requires a sharp eye for problem-solving, effective communication, and dedication. But that’s not all – common facilities maintenance challenges require that you have the right equipment to enable your employees’ access to high spaces. Items like fixed roof access ladders can mean the difference between effective maintenance and avoidable repairs. The right equipment can also ensure your compliance with OSHA regulations and help keep your employees safer and more productive.

But how do you determine what equipment best fits your needs? We at FIXFAST know that selecting specialized equipment can be an intimidating process. Here are some general guidelines we recommend in the roof access ladder selection process to help you start your search.

What to Look for in a Fixed Roof Access Ladder

Regardless of your final selection, your main concern should be complying with OSHA standards. General guidelines include:

  • Ladders must be provided when a “break in elevation” is present of 19 inches or greater
  • If there is only a single access point between levels it must be kept free of obstructions or a second access point should be provided
  • The space between rungs, cleats, and steps should be between 10 and 14 inches
  • Landing platforms must be provided at intervals no greater than 50 feet (unless there is a ladder safety device installed)
  • Fixed ladders must support at least two loads of 250 pounds between any two attachments
  • Ladders must extend at least 42 inches above landings and platforms
  • Rungs must be slip-resistant due to treatment or shape
  • 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.

The rules were recently updated and went into effect in January 2017. While delayed compliance dates are included, consider saving yourself additional work when purchasing new equipment by selecting products fully compliant with the new rule. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list – review the complete and updated OSHA guidelines or consult with an expert to ensure your compliance.

Other Considerations in Ladder Selection

Aside from OSHA regulations, there are several additional items to consider when selecting a new fixed ladder for roof access.

  • Material type: What is the ladder comprised of? Steel and aluminum are common components in fixed roof access ladders, but other materials such as reinforced polymers or galvanized steel are available.
  • Duty rating: What is the maximum load capacity of the ladder? Ensure that it doesn’t just meet the OSHA requirements, but that it exceeds your own expected usage of the equipment.
  • Maintenance needs: Will treads need routine maintenance? What solutions will you have to implement if inspections highlight issues? Keeping maintenance needs front-of-mind will help you select equipment that will better meet your needs for longer.

Ultimately, you should take a holistic view when selecting fixed roof access ladders for your space. Your choice should meet or exceed OSHA guidelines, as well as meet your current needs and anticipated use for years to come.

Interested in discussing your fixed roof access ladder needs with one of our FIXFAST experts? Contact us and we will help find the right solution to meet your needs!

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