Tag Archives: safety tips

OSHA 1910.28 Ladder Change is Live

OSHA’s November 19, 2018 fixed ladder changeover has officially come on their standard 1910.28. What do you need to know to ensure you are meeting OSHA fall protection standards for your fixed laddersOSHA 1910.28 Ladder ChangeIf you have an existing fixed ladder more that 24’h that was installed before November 19, 2018, it should already have a cage on it.  The previous OSHA standard 1910.27 required cages on all ladders over 20’h. You have until November 18th, 2036 to retrofit the caged ladder with a personal fall arrest system. Until then, you are grandfathered in under the OSHA standard that was in place at the time of install. If your climb is 24’ or less, you do not need to retrofit the ladder at any time with a personal fall arrest system.

A-Mezz Personal Fall Arrest System Meets OSHA 1910.28

A-Mezz Personal Fall Arrest System Meets OSHA 1910.28

Note that if you modify or replace an existing ladder (over 24 feet high) that was installed before November 18, 2018, you will need to retrofit the ladder with the personal fall arrest system at that time. Replaced ladder sections are not grandfathered in under the prior OSHA standards – 1910.27.

Any new ladders over 24’h will need to be installed with a personal fall arrest system. You can still have a cage installed on the ladder “provided it does not interfere with the operation of the system” (1910.28(b)(9)(iv)).

These changes pertain to “fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet (7.3 m) above a lower level.” The big change for lower ladders is that a fall arrest system is now not required until you are over 24 feet, whereas the code used to require cages or personal fall arrest systems for climbs over 20’ (1910.27(d)(1)(ii)).

You can also now run your ladders a maximum 150’ in a single climb if using a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system (1910.28(b)(9)(ii)(B)).

The previous OSHA fixed ladder standard had stipulated a 30’ maximum climb before landing platforms were used to break your climb up into shorter climbs. I.e. before November 18th, 2018, a 150 foot climb would require five separate caged ladders and four separate landing platforms. OSHA 1910.28 will let you now have just one ladder with a personal fall arrest system, cutting fabrication costs, delivery costs, and installation costs.

Please contact us at A-Mezz Industrial Structures to get more information on our fixed ladders, our ladder cages, and our ladder personal fall arrest systems.

 

Standing Desks – How to Make the Transition Stick

Standing desks be great for your health and productivity

Standing desks be great for your health and productivity

Over the past couple of years, in the matting department, we’ve been noticing a new trend:  standing desks. The first time I had a customer inquire about mats for the standing desks they were switching to, my mind was boggled. I believe the line running through my mind was, “But chairs are so comfortable”. Sure enough though, they were ditching their chairs in favor of a more upright position. And they sure weren’t the only ones. A fairly sizable chunk of our anti-fatigue matting sales over the past two years have been simple 2’x3’ mats for standing desks.

Intrigued, I looked into the benefits. A simple Google search pulled up a lot of information. A lot of the lists of benefits seem to stem off of each other, and a lot of the studies are done using far too small of pools to prove logical thinking, but the gist of it is: standing desks can help you live longer (via reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and fighting weight gain/obesity) and improve productivity (via improving energy levels).

There are a lot of negatives that go along with standing for long periods of time though, such as fatigue and pain in your feet, legs and back, bad blood circulation and varicose veins. The best way to counter these negatives is by sitting, but if you use a standing desk, using an anti-fatigue mat can help reduce these symptoms. You can find many different models for different applications on FloorMat-Store.com, but for a general office type setting, you can’t really go wrong with a Tile Top mat; it is durable, inexpensive and has a simple design. If you can make the transition more comfortable, chances are less initial push-back will happen and the change will stick around long enough to reap the benefits.

By: Jared (www.floormat-store.com)

OSHA Changes Ladder Fall Protection Requirements (OSHA 1910.28)

OSHA is on fire! Breaking news! WOW!

Ok now that we’ve got that out of our system… We don’t usually have many changes out there when it comes to OSHA standards but there are some industry changing updates coming that will change a lot of things.

Cages will not be required on fixed ladders after mid November of 2018.

Caged ladders to be phased out for other fall protection options

Caged ladders to be phased out for other fall protection options in 2018

Currently, under OSHA standard 1910.27 cages are required on ladders where the climbs are over 20’h. In OSHA’s new standard (OSHA standard 1910.28) taking effect 11/19/2018, ladders will not be required to have fall protection until their height is over 24’ (24’-0-1/4” requires fall protection). OSHA will also be requiring ladders installed after 11/18/2018 to have fall protection in the form of a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system (not a cage). If you have cages now, don’t worry, you will be grandfathered in for twenty years.

So, why the change? OSHA is aligning the fixed ladder standard to be more in line with the ANSI standard A14.3, which in 1979 changed its fall protection height requirement from 20’ to 24’.

Why are they telling us now when the rule won’t go into effect until 11/19/2018? OSHA wants to give the industry time to update products and procedures before they go fine crazy. You CAN now follow the new OSHA rule 1910.28 even though it is not in effect yet. You would not be meeting the current OSHA standard, but you would be in compliance with the future OSHA standard. OSHA would consider this a “de minimis violation”. De minimis violations are violations of standards which have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health, and do not result in a citation, or penalty and need not be abated. 

How does this help you? Well, if your floor to floor height is between 20’ and 24’, you will no longer need to have a cage on your ladder. First off, this can save you LOTS of money. Why?  Not only is it easier to fabricate an uncaged ladder, but there is less steel involved in making the ladder, and also, due to the size a caged ladder takes up on a truck compared to an uncaged ladder, caged ladders can cost 2-4 times as much to ship than their uncaged counterparts.  Another advantage of losing the cage is that you decrease its visibility from the roadside. Without the large cage the ladder is tougher to see from a distance, increasing your buildings visual appeal as well as decreasing the chance that kids looking for a cool place to skateboard, copper thieves, and other people you don’t want on your roof will see the ladder as they pass.

All this being said, when OSHA’s standard mandated cages on climbs over 20’, A-Mezz still offered cages on ladders that only had a climb of 10’ or so and we will continue to offer cages for customers who prefer the added safety of a cage for those shorter climbs. We have gotten feedback from many customers who prefer having a ladder cage because that safety barrier is always in place. You can’t forget to bring a harness with a cage so safety is increased. It is the same argument that makes ladder safety gates so popular and efficient as opposed to ladder chains. Chains only work if the person before you closed them. Ladder safety gates are always in place, always swing closed and always protect you. The same goes for a fixed ladder cage which adds some protection for climbers regardless of whether they have a ladder harness or not.

Replace stairs in tight fit locations and meet code

Many locations have old stairs that need to fixed or replaced due to age, damage etc. Generally speaking regardless of the code in place when the original stair was made, you will need to update your stair to the current building code (IBC) when you replace stairs.

OSHA staircase, replace stairs

Stair meeting OSHA standards

3404.1 General. Except as provided by Section 3401.4 or this section, alterations to any building or structure shall comply with the requirements of the code for new construction. Alterations shall be such that the existing building or structure is no less complying with the provisions of this code than the existing building or structure was prior to the alteration.

This becomes an issue when stairs are installed in tight locations under codes that vary greatly from today’s current International Building Code (IBC) variants.

Imagine having a 12’ high stair in place with a riser height of 9” and a tread depth of 9”. This stair would have (16) treads, 9”deep for a total run of 11’3”.

If the replacement stairs would be required to meet IBC code (adopted by all of the states) they would now need to have (20) treads, 11” deep for a total run of 18’4”. The IBC stairs would extend 7’1” further than the originally installed stairs.

The increased run and decreased slope can wreak havoc on your facilities if the original stairs stopped right before a hallway (new stairs would extend well into the hallway) or if the stairs are enclosed (new slope would cause head clearance issues with existing structure).

If the above situation applies to you don’t sweat it. The above referenced IBC code section does have an exception that may help

Exceptions:

  1. An existing stairway shall not be required to comply with the requirements of Section 1009 where the existing space and construction does not allow a reduction in pitch or slope.
  2. Handrails otherwise required to comply with Section 1009.12 shall not be required to comply with the requirements of Section 1012.6 regarding full extension of the handrails where such extensions would be hazardous due to plan configuration.

 

Why the exemption for stairs (and possibly ramps, though not specifically called out)? The thinking behind the exemption is that without it, stairs that need to be replaced and are not safe will be neglected and not maintained due to the inability to bring them up to current codes. It is better to have a well maintained stair meeting an earlier code than have a poorly maintained stair that doesn’t meet current codes.

Ladder Modification to Meet OSHA standards

control_tower_ladderWe recently were called out to look at a ladder that did not meet OSHA standards (1910.27) for clearance on the back side of the ladder. The ladder also had two angles of climb as shown in the above photo. When climbing up the ladder, the concrete walk was too close to the ladder for you to safely grasp the rung and also to put your foot on the rung while climbing. The ladder was accessing the top of the traffic control tower at an airport, and as such, we had to work around a variety of factors to ensure a proper replacement or modification of the ladder could take place without interrupting operations. As the install location was at an airport, the use of a crane to bring a replacement ladder to location would have been a logistical nightmare. We decided that whatever the solution was, it was to be brought up from the inside of the tower.

control_tower_ladder_option1Our first option was to remove the ladder and replace it with a 90 degree ladder. That is the most common fixed ladder type. There were, however, issues with supplying a replacement ladder.  First off, the concrete walk and rail were extended beyond the top of the tower. This meant that our replacement ladder would need to be very far from the structure in order to give us the required 7” clearance behind the ladder at the concrete walk location. That is not a deal breaker, but holding so far off the structure would have also required an extra-long crossover to reach the tower roof.  OSHA allows the ladder to have a maximum 12” step across at the top of the ladder. As the ladder has to stand 7” off of the wall (or the furthest obstruction off the wall) you can get by without a step across platform if the obstruction is 5” or under (5+7=12). The replacement ladder would have been very large. Ordinarily, this too can be dealt with by using our modular line. Our Modular Fixed Ladders come in pieces no larger than 7’L. Each ladder section bolts to the next one and has a pair of standoff brackets before and after the splice.

We could not accommodate additional standoff brackets required by the modular design so we would have needed to weld each splice together. Again, this was not a deal breaker either, but it did make this option less economical than other options.

control_tower_ladder_option2We decided that it was more economical to modify the existing ladder. The top of the ladder was already angled at an 81 degree angle. In the field we ran a laser down the ladder from the top to see where we would land if we kept that same angle throughout the climbing run. By cutting the ladder at the bend, and then cutting each of the lower standoff brackets, we were able to gain close to a foot of clearance at the concrete landing, well within the acceptable tolerances of OSHA’s standards. This option was not without its challenges though. As the ladder was going to be sticking off the wall even further than before, we were concerned about having a stable climb.

Here is the original ladder with the standoff brackets back to the structure.

Here is the original ladder with the standoff brackets back to the structure.

control_tower_ladder_afterWe added cross bracing across the two standoff brackets to stiffen the ladder up with the extended bracket length. After modifying the ladder, the bottom rung was still within the 14” allowed by ANSI A14.3, so no additional ladder rungs were required. Each welded location was then sanded down to remove any sharp edges or burrs and painted with a rust inhibiting primer. The end user was going to have their maintenance department repaint the ladder after completion of the work to help cut down on costs.

The ladder modification was completed at budget and within the scheduled time. Most importantly, the customer now had safe access to their roof. If you have a unique situation like this, give us a call. We can help you come up with the solution that fits your site requirements and budget, too.

completed_control_tower_ladder

Do I Need a Swing Gate on My Fixed Ladder?

 

Walk-thru fixed ladder with cage

Walk-thru fixed ladder with safety cage

Do you need a ladder gate at your ladder opening in your railing? According to OSHA 1910.23(a)(2) “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.”

This means that every ladder opening needs to be either (a) Offset so that a person cannot walk (or fall) directly into the opening or (b) Protected by a ladder safety gate. It is an easy either/or. The most common ladder installation locations are not offset and as such require safety gates. Below you will see some photos of ladders and top view sketches clarifying why each of their orientations either do or do not require a gate.

One quick note – there is often a source of confusion surrounding the OSHA standards because of the passage further in the standard (1910.23(c)(1) which states “Every open-sided floor or platform 4 feet or more above adjacent floor or ground level shall be guarded by a standard railing (or the equivalent as specified in paragraph (e)(3) of this section) on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder. The railing shall be provided with a toeboard wherever, beneath the open sides, persons can pass, there is moving machinery, or there is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard.”

Many people had been incorrectly interpreting this believing that if their ladder opening was under 4’h, a gate was not required. OSHA has cleared up this misconception by stating “Unguarded ladderway floor openings and unguarded ladderway entrances on all surfaces should be cited under section 1910.23(a)(2)”, for all intents and purposes, if you have a ladder opening, it is required to meet OSHA 1910.23(a)(2).

Now that we know what the code requirement is, it is time to review a few common ladder mounting orientations to discuss where they fall under the code.

Fixed ladder mounted to side of platform

Fixed ladder mounted to side of platform

The above fixed ladder is mounted onto the side of the platform. Work is performed further down the platform but it is possible to fall directly down the ladder opening. This location is not offset and as such would require a swing gate. See the below top view sketch for clarification.

Top view sketch of side mounted fixed ladderway opening

Top view sketch of side mounted fixed ladderway opening

You can walk directly to the ladder opening from where work is/can be expected to be performed and as such, a safety gate is required at the ladder opening.

Fixed ladder with offset landing platform

Fixed ladder with offset landing platform

The above ladder accesses a platform and then turns to access the main walkway. This ladder is offset and would not require a swing gate at the opening.

Top view sketch of offset mounted fixed ladderway opening

Top view sketch of offset mounted fixed ladderway opening

As you can see above, if someone fell while at the main walkway they would fall onto the ladder landing surface, they would not fall down the ladder opening. If the ladder was rotated to the left side of the landing it would require a safety gate because then the ladder opening would no longer be offset.

Ladderway opening on side of catwalk

Ladderway opening on side of catwalk

Above is a very common ladder mount position. This one can be tricky until you lay it out from the top view. From first glance it looks like because the ladder is off to the side that it would be offset from the normal flow of traffic, but if you fell at that point of the catwalk there would be no guarding to protect you. A swing gate is a requirement at this location.

Top view sketch of catwalk side mounted fixed ladderway opening

Top view sketch of catwalk side mounted fixed ladderway opening

As you can see from the above sketch, there is a single direction of travel to the ladder from the catwalk. This is not offset. It would be a single direction fall into the ladder opening and as such, a ladder safety gate is required to protect your employees when a ladder is installed in the above orientation.

Most areas are not offset. A good rule of thumb is that if you can fall into the ladder opening with a single direction fall, then you are not offset. The only example above that didn’t need a gate was the second ladder location. With that orientation, you would fall onto the ladder landing and then hit the rear railing, not fall through the ladder opening.

Stay safe everyone!

We received a sobering message from a customer looking at our caged fixed ladders today:

 “My dad fell off of the roof to his death in June while trying to come down the ladder he had rested on the side of the building.  I believe his foot got caught in the rope.  If he had had one of these ladders this would not have happened.”

Stay safe out there everyone. I know that the above was just a random accident but if there is the chance that you can prevent those, especially after hearing about what can happen, why wouldn’t you?  Taking precautions and doing things the safe and right way may take a little longer or cost a little more, but going home to our loved ones at the end of the day is worth any price.

Our sincere condolences are with this customer and their family and hopefully sharing this story will cause someone else to take a moment to look around and make sure they are taking all necessary safety precautions. If you are unsure if you are doing something right, ask someone.

With a little help we can all make it home safe tonight.

Commercial and residential roof hatches for pitched roofs

economy series roof hatch mounted on a pitched roof

Standard roof hatch on a pitched roof

We received this set of photos from a customer who used our “off the shelf” Economy Series Galvanized Roof hatch on a pitched shingle roof like you would find in many commercial and residential locations. The standard roof hatch comes with cap flashing and 1” thick rigid fiber board insulation along the curb of the hatch. For this installation, the customer removed the curb insulation from the hatch and bolted the hatch down to the roof. They wanted the most economical roof hatch solution that had a low profile to match the roof slope. Ordinarily we would suggest using a pitch corrected roof hatch on slopes greater than 3/12, but the infrequent use and need for a low profile roof hatch was more important to the customer than the advantages of the pitch corrected roof hatch. Below are some pros and cons of each setup to help you decide which solution is best for your situation.

Open roof hatch showing clearances on a sloped roof

Open roof hatch showing clearances on a sloped roof

Economy series hatch installed on a shingled, sloped roof

Economy series hatch installed on a shingled, sloped roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard roof hatch on a pitched roof pros:

  • Low cost
  • Standard sizes most likely in stock for immediate shipment
  • Low profile on roof

Standard roof hatch on a pitched roof cons:

  • Cannot use roof hatch railing (roof hatch railing may be required by OSHA depending on your site conditions)
  • Increased strain on hardware – installation on pitches 4/12 and greater are not covered by warranty
  • Decreased opening area due to roof hatch angle (see above photos)
Sample pitch correction options for roof hatch curbs mounting on sloped roofs

Sample pitch correction options for roof hatch curbs mounting on sloped roofs

Pitch corrected hatch on a pitched roof pros:

  • Larger opening for exiting on a pitched roof
  • Less strain on the hardware
  • Roof hatch railing can be installed on pitch corrected curbs
  • Needed for warranty coverage on pitches of 4/12 and greater
  • Required for larger roof hatches on pitched roofs

Pitch corrected roof hatch on a pitched roof cons:

  • Slightly increased cost (made to order)
  • Increased lead time (made to order)
  • Taller curb on low end of roof may be more visible from ground level

Using the pitch corrected hatch for your pitched roofs over 3/12 gives you the standard manufacturer’s  warranty and can give you a larger opening to go through, but ultimately it comes down to your specific needs and what is most important for you. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Stairway Visibility Through Contrasting Colored Step Nosing

By Jared @ Floormatstore.com

The other day, a friend called me up to discuss safety codes in regards to stairs. He was moving his son out of his apartment and carrying the sofa down the stairs. The rubber stair treads were in terrible shape, cracked, worn through and just in general need of replacement, which of course presents a safety issue on its own. The larger issue he had called about though, was stairway visibility. The stair treads had grit stripping in the nosing – which is a sandpaper-like tape, used for extra traction and visual awareness – on all but a few of the steps, one of which was the last step before a landing. Walking down the stairs backwards, carrying one end of the sofa, the bottom step – missing the strip – blended in with the landing below it, giving the false impression that he had reached the landing. As you could guess, stepping back, thinking that he had reached the landing, caused a bit of a stumble. I’m sure we have all experienced that moment of terror, where your heart jumps up an inch, your stomach is sucked up into your chest and your breath stops for a split second that feels like minutes. Luckily for him, he caught himself before fully falling down and walked away without injury. His story made for a great discussion on the topic of contrasting color for visual awareness.

One of the highest causes for accidents on stairways is poor visibility of both risers and treads. Poor visibility can cause people to misread the edge of a step, causing them to fall. One of the best and most cost effective ways to increase visibility is by providing a visual contrast on the leading edge of treads. According to the U.S. Access Board Research, safety yellow is the most ‘visually detectible’ color.

FloorMat-Store.com GSA9 Aluminum Stair Treads displaying a black tread with contrasting safety yellow leading edge

FloorMat-Store.com GSA9 Aluminum Stair Treads displaying a black tread with contrasting safety yellow leading edge

Whether or not the contrasting stripes are a requirement is a debated topic across the country. Because stairs are not part of an accessible route, ‘ANSI A117.1 Section 504 Stairways’ does not technically apply to the IBC. The misconception comes from the commentary for subsection 1102.1 Design. Visual contrast is not referenced into the IBC, so it only applies if the authority having jurisdiction has specifically incorporated the requirement into their set of codes. For example, all of California does require them. Also, according to ADASAD Advisory 504.4 Tread Surface, the contrasting color is not required, but strongly suggested. If you are unsure of the requirements in your area, check with your local building inspector.