While meant to provide fall protection, the reality is that fixed ladders with cages do not provide adequate fall protection!
Fall protection measures are continually advancing and improving. Operating under the idea that every fall is preventable, fall safety protocols and equipment should not stop improving until there are no more fall accidents! For instance, safety standards for fixed ladders with cages were implemented in the 1980s but have since been found not to provide adequate fall protection. In 2018, OSHA updated the safety standard for fixed ladders with cages.
Fixed Ladders With Cages and Safety
Adding cages to fixed ladders was initially thought to increase ladder safety for workers. The thinking was that the ladder cage would keep a falling worker close enough to the ladder that they would be able to catch the ladder and prevent a fall. However, subsequent testing and anecdotal evidence have shown that cages on fixed ladders do not adequately protect workers from falling.
Research has shown that cages on fixed ladders protect workers to a small degree if their fall trajectory takes them backward, but not at all if their fall trajectory is only downwards. Additionally, the bands of a cage present hazards to a falling worker because their limbs could strike the bands or become wedged within the cage bands, both of which could cause serious injury to the falling worker.
In 2018, OSHA updated the safety standards for fixed cages. 29 CFR 1910.28(b)(9)(i) requires, for fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet above a lower level, the employer must ensure:
- Existing fixed ladders. Each fixed ladder installed before November 19, 2018, is equipped with a personal fall arrest system, ladder safety system, cage, or well;
- New fixed ladders. Each fixed ladder installed on and after November 19, 2018, is equipped with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system;
- Replacement. When a fixed ladder, cage, or well, or any portion of a section thereof, is replaced, a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system is installed in at least that section of the fixed ladder, cage, or well in the location of the replacement; and
- Final deadline. On and after November 18, 2036, equip all fixed ladders with a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system.
Our ladder safety systems and fall protection products provide safety in areas where fall injuries are always possible!