New Ladder Safety Standards
The new rule brought forward by OSHA sets out a requirement for employers to have
ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems for fixed ladders that extend more than 24
feet. It phases out the use of cages or wells for fall protection, and everything is to be
implemented under a very precise timeline. The revised ruling establishes a phase out of ladder wells and cages over the next 20 years per OSHA 1910.128(b)(9)(i).
- 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)).
LADDER SAFETY SYSTEM: A system attached to a fixed ladder designed to eliminate or reduce the possibility of a worker falling off the ladder. A ladder safety system usually consists of a carrier, safety sleeve, lanyard, connectors, and body harness. Cages and wells are not considered ladder safety systems.
PERSONAL FALL ARREST SYSTEM: A system that arrests / stops a fall before the worker contacts a lower level. Consists of a body harness, anchorage, and connector.
Important Note: The revised ruling doesn’t require removal of ladder cages and wells prior to the final deadline (as long as their presence doesn’t interfere with the use of a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system), but stipulates after the phase-out period, alternative forms of ladder fall protection are required to ensure compliance.
Previously, under OSHA standard 1910.27 cages are required on ladders where the climbs are over 20’ in height. In OSHA’s new standard (OSHA standard 1910.28) that took effect 11/19/2018, ladders will not be required to have fall protection until their height is over 24’. OSHA will also be requiring ladders installed after 11/18/2018 to have fall protection in the form of a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system (not a cage). If you have cages now, don’t worry, you will be grandfathered in for twenty years.