Unprotected Fixed Ladders

March 14, 2024

OSHA 1910.28(B)(3)(iv):

Each employee is protected from falling into a ladderway … by a guardrail system ..., except at the entrance …, where a self-closing gate or an offset must be used,” as per 29 CFR 1910.28.

According to OSHA, “Falls are the leading cause of work-related injuries and deaths among roofers. Working six feet or more above lower levels put roofers at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. A lack of fall protection, damaged fall protection equipment, or improper setup will increase their risk of falling from height.”


There are several fall hazards associated with ladders. The first is the possibility of falling while climbing the ladder. The second happens while getting on and off the ladder. SRS offers multiple solutions to protect workers from the dangers of falling down a fixed ladder.

1. A ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system is required when the top of the ladder is at a distance greater than 24 feet above the lower level. Safety Rail Source ® recommends Fixed Ladder Lifelines compliant with 29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(18) and 29 CFR 1910.28(b)(9). Note: as of 2018, cages are no longer considered fall protection for new or updated ladders. Building owners have until 2036 to retrofit older ladders with cages to ones with a personal fall arrest system.

      • NextGen SecuRope™ is a vertical cable lifeline connected with a vertical glider and brake allowing the climber to safely ascend and descend the ladder. The glider will lock instantly in case of a fall.
      • NextGen SecuRail™ is a vertical rail lifeline connected with a trolley equipped with a brake. It can be retrofitted on existing ladders.

      2. Unless the roof has a parapet wall, some type of guardrail is required to protect the person who is getting on or off the ladder. This guardrail can either extend to both sides of the ladder or can come out perpendicular to the roof edge. Either way, the goal would be to protect the person who is coming within 15 feet of the roof edge.

        3. A self-closing safety-gate compliant with 29 CFR 1910.29(b)(13) is required at the top of the ladder to close off the open space created by the access to the ladder. The gate combined with a parapet wall or guardrail is the final piece needed for sufficient fall protection.

              • KEE® Self-Closing Safety Gate satisfies OSHA standards for guarding ladder-ways, stairways, scaffolding and other openings. The gate features a spring loaded, self-closing hinge. Its universal attachment bracket works with railing, roof hatches, ladders, and scaffolding.

          Additional OSHA Code Detail:

          1910.29(b)(13): When guardrail systems are used around holes that serve as points of access (such as ladderways), the guardrail system opening: Has a self-closing gate that slides or swings away from the hole, and is equipped with a top rail and mid-rail or equivalent intermediate member that meets the requirements in paragraph (b) of this section; or is offset to prevent an employee from walking or falling into the hole.

          New OSHA code: 1910.29(b) replaces previous OSHA code: 1910.23(a). Therefore, if you are currently using chains, single-bar or drop-bar style gates in an access point or opening, they are no longer compliant and need to be replaced.

          1926.1053(a)(18): Fixed ladders shall be provided with cages, wells, ladder safety devices, or self-retracting lifelines where the length of climb is less than 24 feet (7.3 m) but the top of the ladder is at a distance greater than 24 feet (7.3 m) above lower levels.