Falls from elevated surfaces make up the biggest percentage of construction related deaths and injuries. This, in turn, makes them one of the biggest sources of legal disputes. Many of these disputes stem from issues with walking-working surfaces, fall restraint systems, and ladder standards. However, with a new ruling we go over below, some standards for walking-working surfaces and ladders have changed for the better. If you want to be prepared next time OSHA inspectors come to your jobsite, take this information to heart and ensure that your team is carefully observing all current ladder regulations.
Under OSHA’s recent 1910 ruling, several important OSHA ladder regulations changed. We realize that these frequent changes can be not only annoying but a financial burden. However, it is imperative that you stick to them and ensure that all aspects of your jobsite are following regulations, especially these new ones involving ladder standards. If you’re unsure about OSHA ladder requirements, reach out to one of our roofing lawyers and they’ll be able to help you navigate the fog that is OSHA compliance.
New Height Requirement
Fall protection is now mandatory for fixed ladders higher than (or that extends beyond) 24 feet. Considering how often roofers are using fixed ladders to enter and exit sites, it’s imperative that you check the ladders you are using to ensure compliance. However, this isn’t the only change that OSHA has implemented.
Repair & Replacement Guidelines
A personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system has to be used to replace any damaged, non-functioning sections, cages or wells previously installed on a fixed ladder. Under this new equipment specification, cages are no longer considered compliant for fall protection in newly installed ladders. To meet OSHA standards, a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system is now required.
Timeline of Mandates
Per this older update, OSHA is giving the entire general industry community an alert that they are doing so along with a strict deadline. As of November 19th, 2036, cages will no longer be accepted as a form of fall protection, and all fixed ladders taller than (or that extend beyond) 24 feet high must use a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system. You may be thinking, why the time gap? OSHA is giving workplaces, including warehouses, utilities, retail, and manufacturing, some time to transition. Fortunately, if you already have a cage attached to a fixed ladder, OSHA will accept its use for the next 19 years.
Here is a timeline that all contractors should be familiar with:
- May 17, 2017: Employees need to be trained on equipment covered by the final ruling, and trained on fall hazards.
- November 20, 2017: Inspect and certify permanent anchorages for rope descent systems.
- November 19, 2018: All 24 feet tall fixed ladders installed or replaced at this time must have compliant fall protection.
- November 18, 2036: Cages cannot be installed as viable fall protection. All fixed ladders used in general industry will adhere to the same fall protection requirements.|
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.