Falls are one of the most common causes of work-related injuries and deaths in the United States. In 2015, OSHA handed out 7,000 citations, making fall protection the most frequent workplace safety violation. The cost of these injuries is eye-opening, as well: Worker’s compensation and medical expenses from occupational fall incidents have been estimated to cost $70 billion annually.

When it comes to protecting workers from falls, you can’t ever be too cautious. Your employees are your greatest asset, and every time they walk near an elevated opening they are at risk. However, having the right fall protection equipment in place, such as self-closing safety gates, can help prevent dangerous falls.

The best way to protect employees on an elevated work platform with an unprotected opening, such as a ladderway or stair opening, is by installing self-closing safety gates. Self-closing safety gates are critical for protecting workers from entry and exit falls, and in many cases they are required by OSHA regulations. These gates are easy to implement and will save you time and money while keeping your employees safe.

According to OSHA 1910.23 (“Protection for floor openings” and “Protection of open-sided floors, platforms and runways”): Every ladderway, floor opening or platform shall be guarded by a standard railing with standard toe board on all exposed sides (except at entrance to opening), with the passage through the railing either provided with a swinging gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening. Also, every open-sided floor or platform four feet or more above adjacent floor or ground level shall be guarded by a standard railing on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway or fixed ladder. The railing shall be provided with a toe board wherever, beneath the open sides, people can pass, there is moving machinery or there is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard.

To protect workers at your facility and ensure you’re OSHA-compliant, you should install safety gates in the following situations:

  • All ladder access points:To prevent your employees from falling into the entrance of a ladderway floor hole, install a high-quality, self-closing safety gate.
  • Work platforms:No matter what kind of work platform you have, they all require fall protection for your workers. Whether you have standard platforms, mezzanines or loading docks, securing all open edges of the platform with safety swing gates will protect your employees and meet OSHA requirements.
  • Roof openings:When installing guard rail systems around roof openings to protect workers from injuries and falls, the top rails must be 39 to 45 inches higher than the working surface. The guard rail also must be able to withstand the force of 200 pounds. A safety gate system can complement the guard rails surrounding the open roof area, providing more protection for workers and OSHA compliance.
  • Any surface higher than four feet in the air:OSHA requires that adequate fall protection be provided for elevations of four feet or more in general workplaces, five feet in shipyards and six feet in construction sites. OSHA also requires that fall protection be provided when working with dangerous equipment and machinery, no matter what the fall distance is. Any work area taller than four feet high must be protected with guard rails and safety gates that are at least 42 inches tall. OSHA requires the rails and gates to be on installed on every open side of the platform.

One key thing to remember: It’s important that a self-closing gate slides or swings away from the hole. Also, the gate should be equipped with a top rail and mid rail.

Need to outfit your entire facility with safety gates to comply with OSHA regulations? Count the number of openings you need to cover and then call the experts at KC Supply. We can help you determine which self-closing safety gates are best for your facility, and we’ll work within your budget to meet OSHA requirements and protect your employees. Call us at 800.KC.SUPPLY or visit kcsupply.com today.