Have you ever wondered whether fall protection is required when you’re on a portable ladder? Find out why the answer could be both yes and no.
Working on a portable ladder presents obvious fall risks, and those risks should be mitigated whenever possible. However, is wearing fall protective gear while on a portable ladder the best option for ensuring safety? The answer is not as cut and dry as it may seem.
Wearing Fall Protective Gear on a Portable Ladder
Under OSHA’s standard for construction (29 CFR 1926.501), workers must utilize fall protection with an unprotected edge that is 6 feet above a lower level. Similarly, the standard for general industry, walking-working surfaces (1910 Subpart D) maintains a need for fall protection at 4 feet in the form of a guardrail, a safety net, or through wearing a personal fall protection system. There are no standards that call for wearing fall protective gear while on a ladder.
However, OSHA does maintain that if a company’s safety policy requires a worker to wear fall protection gear while working from a ladder, then employees must comply with this policy.
A portable ladder is not a viable option for an anchor. Even if the ladder itself is staked and tied off, it does not qualify as an approved anchor point to connect to the fall protection gear.
One option is to find an anchor point above the ladder. However, it should be noted that the tying off to the anchor point should not add additional exposure or danger for a worker. It makes no sense to climb 20 feet to tie off to an anchor point if the worker is going to be working on the ladder five feet off the ground.
Another option is to utilize the newer portable ladders that have an engineered guardrail at the top of the ladder and a safety cage. A ladder with a safety cage with a guardrail generally will comply with tie-off rules.
Safe Keeper offers a wide line of fall protection gear and Safe Climber Ladder Safety Systems to ensure fall safety protocols are met and exceeded.