As of November 19, cages will no longer be required on fixed ladders. Currently, OSHA standard 1910.27 requires cages on ladders where the climb is over 20 feet high. However, OSHA’s new standard 1910.28 amends the rule so that ladders will only be required to have fall protection if their height is higher than 24 feet (24’-0-1/4” requires fall protection).

This is part of OSHA’s final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems to protect workers in from falls. The administration is giving you plenty of time to update products and procedures to get into compliance with the new standard.  Organizations can begin preparing for the change now and anytime during the next five months before the standard officially takes effect without penalty or citation, OSHA said.

By November 19, 2018, organizations must have installed fall protection (personal fall arrest systems, ladder safety systems, cages, wells) on existing fixed ladders over 24 feet that do not have any fall protection. Also, they must have installed personal fall arrest systems or ladder safety system on all new fixed ladders over 24 feet and replacement ladders/ladder sections. If you have cages now, however, OSHA says you will be grandfathered in until November 2036.

Bottom line, if your floor-to-floor height is between 20 and 24 feet, you are no longer required to have a cage on your ladder. While some still may feel more comfortable retaining a ladder cage as a safety barrier despite the new rule, there are some benefits to OSHA’s revised standard:

  • Cost savings: The new rule will save you money because cageless ladders are less expensive to manufacture and require less shipping space on freight lines (thus are two-to-four times more economical to ship).
  • Reduced visibility: Without the cage, you decrease the ladder’s visibility from the outside. This not only improves your building’s visual appeal but also may reduce theft from people who might happen by and be tempted when they see a caged ladder.

In lieu of cages, the OSHA standard requires fixed ladders installed after Nov. 18, 2018, to include some type of fall protection in the form of a system that will help prevent falls. These may include climbing systems, body harnesses and/or ladder safety systems.

Rail climbing systems provide maximum safety for workers in towers, antennas, stacks, scaffolds, wind generators, silos, ladders and many others. A rail easily attaches to a ladder or climbing surface, while a trolley moves freely along the rail unless a slip or fall occurs. If that happens, the trolley instantly locks to prevent a fall.

The cable systems include a full-body harness and usually a stainless-steel cable. These systems typically feature a safety sleeve that automatically follows the ascending and descending movements of a worker along a fixed ladder. If a slip or fall occurs, a locking mechanism engages, limiting the fall to a few inches and reducing the possibility of serious injury.

Between now and mid-November, make sure you are in compliance with OSHA’s new rule for fixed ladder climbing. If you have questions about how the new rules affect you or need help updating your facility, call your local experts at KC Supply Co., 1.800.KC.SUPPLY or