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Are Chains Allowed for Ladder Access Points?

No, OSHA no longer allows chains for fall protection on ladders.

Updates to OSHA’s Walking/Working Surface rules have introduced critical changes that impact safety management in such high-risk areas. On fixed ladders, chains were used to block access to openings in ladderways. However, their effectiveness has been questioned due to several risks they present. Weak materials like plastic chains, the unreliability of S-hooks that could easily detach, and the potential neglect by workers to properly re-hook them after use made chains a suboptimal solution. Moreover, the possibility of unhooked chains causing tripping hazards was a significant concern, particularly near roof or platform edges.

The OSHA standard allows for two options: a self-closing gate or an offset.

Self-closing gate

Self-closing gates are robust and effectively minimize accidents by maintaining a constant barrier at the opening. They require deliberate action by a worker to open and are designed to close automatically, reducing the likelihood of human error.

Safety swing gate

An offset

Although an offset does not provide a physical barrier directly at the entrance, it prevents accidental falls by designing the access point to require deliberate effort to reach the ladder. This design ensures that workers remain alert to potential hazards, enhancing safety.

The urgency of compliance with these new regulations cannot be overstated. The shift from chains towards more secure fall protection measures has no phased implementation schedule and requires immediate compliance. Employers are encouraged to assess and update their current safety systems to avoid penalties and enhance employee safety.

In summary, transitioning from chains to more reliable fall protection methods like self-closing gates or offsets significantly improves workplace safety standards. It reflects a broader commitment to reducing workplace accidents and protecting workers from fall hazards at ladder access points.

Stair - OSHA Requirements

Check out our visual, easy-to-scan OSHA reference guide.


YellowGate Industrial Safety Gates

With YellowGate’s adjustability and universal mounting system, you can protect every passway in your facility WITH ONE SKU. No measuring our mounting guesswork, simply count the number of openings and place your order.

  • Adjustable – Adjust to fit any opening
  • Universal Mount – Mounts anywhere with no additional parts
  • Field Adjustable – No cutting, welding, or drilling

Learn more about YellowGate’s Safety Gate