How to Choose Between Caged Ladders or Fall Arrest Line Ladders

Derek Tokarz

Derek Tokarz

Certified in Safety Management Group's Training in Fall Protection

According to OSHA standards if a fixed ladder climbing height exceeds 20ft the ladder must have fall protection.  The two fall protection options we supply are either a caged ladder or a ladder with a vertical fall arrest line. Why the two options and how do I choose?

First off you need to consider what the total height of the ladder is.  When considering a caged ladder, OSHA 1910.27 (d) (2) states “when ladders are used to ascend to heights exceeding 20 feet (except on chimneys), landing platforms shall be provided for each 30 feet of height or fraction thereof”.  With a fall arrest line ladder you can do a single continuous ladder with no need for intermediate landing platforms.

A few other points to consider are…

  • Who is going to use this ladder and how often?  A caged ladder is simpler to climb and more user friendly from the point of view that the user doesn’t need to be trained in how to wear a harness and connect to the vertical lifeline.  The ladder should of course only be used by people who are competent in ladder safety.
  • A fall arrest line ladder must always be fixed at the base and the top.  If you have a parapet wall, you fix the ladder to the parapet, otherwise you will need a 6 foot lead on handrail/walkway which must be fixed to the roof.
  • Some schools of opinion call the caged ladder a ‘cheese grater’, because several studies have concluded that a fall within a caged ladder can cause more harm than good.  If this is a concern then the fall arrest line ladder is the one for you because the lifeline arrests any fall instantly.
  • Budget…?  If your ladder is less than 25 foot then a caged ladder is the more cost effective option.  As soon as you get over 25 foot then the fall arrest line ladders are more cost effective and simpler to install.

If you have any comments or questions, and need any further information please get in touch.

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