Understand the requirements of the new 24-ft rule for fixed ladders.

In 2018, OSHA added the OSHA Section 1910.28(b)(9)(i) regulation that requires any fixed access ladder that will reach more than 24 feet above a lower level to utilize either a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system in the installation of the ladder. Prior to this new regulation, ladder cages and ladder wells were thought to provide adequate fall protection to workers climbing fixed ladders, but continuing injuries and deaths showed they do not. OSHA also put forth a timeline for fixed ladders to be made compliant. Many questions were raised concerning the 24-foot rule, especially where different combinations of fixed ladders are in use. See one easy rule for answering all fixed ladder compliance questions, the timeline for compliance, and Safe Climber’s options for you to get your fixed ladders into compliance.

Using the 24-Foot Rule for Fixed Ladders

Fixed ladders come in all different lengths, combinations, and arrays. There are fixed ladders that are made up of several different sections, ladders that utilize side-step-off platforms, ladders that start 10 feet off the ground, and more. All of these different options raised questions as to whether these fixed ladders were in compliance or not.

The 24-foot rule of the regulation is the only part that needs to be considered to determine compliance. If a worker on the ladder—no matter if there are sections, platforms, or different ladder starting points—could fall 24 feet or more, then the ladder must eventually be equipped with either a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system. 

For instance, if a 15-foot fixed ladder starts 10 feet off the ground, then a worker could fall 24 feet or more. Similarly, if a fixed ladder is made of two separate sections of 15-foot fixed ladders, then a worker could fall 24 feet or more. In scenarios, the fixed ladders must eventually be equipped with either a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system because a worker could fall 24 feet or more.

The Fixed Ladder Timeline

All new fixed ladders installed after November 19, 2018 must be installed with either a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system. Fixed ladders existing prior to November 19, 2018 must be retrofitted to be in compliance by November 18, 2036; existing ladder cages or wells do not need to be removed, but a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system must be in place. Anytime that a section of an existing fixed ladder needs to be repaired or replaced, a personal fall arrest or ladder safety system must be added to that section.

Safe Climber’s Solution

Safe Climber offers two ladder systems that meet the requirements of the new fixed ladder regulation. Our Stainless Steel Cable System and our Aluminum Rail System are made up of high quality, nonferrous, components easily installed on your new or retrofit applications. Get your fixed ladders in compliance today!