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Phasing Out Ladder Cages

- December 11, 2018 by Erin Silva, CSP (View all posts by Erin)

Did you know that part of the new General Industry Working Walking Surface Standard applies to fixed cages for ladders that are 24′ or greater above a lower level? Ladder cages as an acceptable form of fall protection are being phased out. The changes began November 2018 and have deadlines that are important to consider.

Below are the key highlights of these important changes:

  • 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))

From a risk standpoint, cages have never been a good solution because they don’t actually stop anyone from falling, and in many cases create gruesome injuries from entanglements during rapid decent. It can also create difficult situations for first responders if the person strikes their head and becomes unconscious and entangled. In fact, I can remember one such incident happening in my time working as a safety professional. If the employee had not woken up, I’m not sure how the rescue would have taken place as the person was 15 feet off the ground.

So, why did they create this regulation? The new ruling was designed to allow more uniformity between the construction standards and general industry. This is great for employers that fall under general industry because it allows for more fall protection options that were previously only available to the construction industry.

Keep in mind you don’t have to get rid of your ladder cage. You just need to ensure there is another means to arrest a fall should it occur.

Want more information? Ask your local fall protection provider and or your designated ICW Group Risk Management Consultant.