Gates for ladder protection at the workplace

Minnesota employers may be wondering if they should use a chain or a gate for protection when their workers are using a ladder. The truth is that gates offer more protection than chains.

When chains are used with ladder openings, there are a number of reasons why this does not provide workers with the protection they need. In the first place, when chains are used, employees using the ladder must stop while standing on the ladder and reach over with one hand to reattach the chain. During this time, they are more vulnerable to hazards. However, a self-closing gate will keep employees from being put into this risky position.

Further, self-closing gates are much more dependable at protecting a gate's opening because employees tend to forget to reattach the chain, which can put other employees in danger of getting hurt when they pass through and become seriously injured if they fall into a hole's entrance.

Employers and employees may be confused over this issue, due to the fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's 1982 letter of interpretation in which the agency stated that chains can be used for ladder openings because they offer the same protection as swinging gates. However, in November 2016, in an effort to improve workplace safety, OSHA issued new rules requiring the use of self-closing gates instead of chains at entrances to platform holes and ladderway floors.

Employees hurt on the job can exercise their right to file a workers' compensation claim in order to receive medical treatment and a percentage of any wages missed during their recovery. Employees who feel they did not receive the benefits they deserve or were denied them might want to seek the advice of an attorney.

Source: Safety and Health, "The use of chains in fall protection", Daniel Huntington, Feb. 17, 2017

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