Tractel: Ladder Safety – Update to Standards Now in Effect
In January 2017, most of the provisions from OSHA’s final rule on “General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems” went into effect. Now that a full year has come and gone, almost all provisions from the update have taken effect. The exception is “replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet.” Employers have until Nov. 18, 2036, to make this change on their worksites.
If you haven’t made the required changes to your ladders over 24 feet, the time to do so is now. But what should you look for when selecting a ladder safety system? Here are three key features to keep in mind when determining if a solution is best for your needs.
Ease of Use
A ladder safety system is only effective if your employees can easily, and quickly, utilize it. When seeking out a solution for your jobsite, ensure the ladder safety system can be easily clipped into and features components that increase safety, without decreasing efficiency. Users should be able to have full use of their hand and smoothly traverse up and down the ladder.
Flexibility and Versatility
Not all ladders are alike. When selecting a ladder safety system, ensure your system can fit on a variety of ladder types and sizes. The system should be made of high-quality materials, capable of standing up to harsh weather outdoors and indoor environments that are dusty, hot or exceptionally cold. Your system should also be quick to install and adjust on a moment’s notice.
Ladder systems are designed to increase safety for workers traveling up and down ladders. First, ensure your ladder and the structure it is attached to meet the requirements of the safety system and can support 5,000 lbs. Your ladder safety system is only as strong as the ladder it is attached to. When selecting a system, opt for one with an optional fall arrester paired with a shock absorber. This will ensure that a fall is arrested quickly and enable the user to recover and continue climbing if there is no injury.
The update to this rule provides greater flexibility for employers in general industry. Employers are no longer required to use guardrails as primary fall protection; they can select the system they deem best for their particular worksite and the update is in line with advances in technology and best practices. An overview of the update can be found on OSHA’s website.
Ensure compliance and review your ladder safety system today. If you are installing a new fixed ladder over 24 feet, or updating or replacing ladder sections, a safety system must be installed. Cages and wells will only be viable options until 2036, so take the time now to invest in a secure ladder safety system designed to keep your workplace safe.