Are safety gates or guardrail needed at the top of every fixed ladder that gives me access to the roof of my building?
Yes, safety gates and guardrail are needed, because each potential opening or egress point created by a rooftop access ladder must be properly corralled off, combined with a swing gate to prevent an accidental fall through of an exposed rooftop opening, and OSHA regulation 1910.23(a)(2) leaves little room for interpretation.
It states, “Every ladderway floor opening or platform shall be guarded by a standard railing with standard toeboard on all exposed sides (except at entrance to opening), with the passage through the railing either provided with a swinging gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening.”
For OSHA (and the general public at large), the openings created by roof ladder access points present as great a fall hazard as rooftop edges. This standard is intended to cover both roof access ladders near the edge of the building, in addition to those that are egressed via a hatch or hatchway. Despite the hatchway having the ability to close shut to prevent accidental fall-through, there is always room for human error. This is precisely why OSHA spells out the further the need for the guardrail and swing gates as outlined in Section 1910.23(a)(2).
To prevent such an accident and to meet the requirements of OSHA, the industry has developed self-closing gates that attach to the frame of the ladder. In concert, they create the needed offset and protection from a fall hazard by corralling off the area and controlling access to it by requiring the deliberate action of opening the gate to gain access to the ladder egress.
Swinging safety gates have become a popular option and are commonplace among many industrial, manufacturing and general industry rooftops. They are the most often and widely used means to combat these types of accidents, while complying with OSHA’s requirements. They are inexpensive, easy to set up, and come in a wide variety of kits designed to fit around many standard openings or rooftop edge ladders. More about self-closing swing gates and safety railing can be found here.
Please feel free to call us with any questions related to rooftop access ladders, swing gates, safety netting, roof hatches, skylights and skylight screens, rooftop railings and walkways, rentals, or fall protection installation.
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