Employees in Pennsylvania might wonder whether it is appropriate to use chains as a fall protection method with ladders. Although some facilities do use chains instead of gates, chains are not safe because unlike a self-closing gate, they require a worker to manually close them. Many workers may be unaware of this danger.
When using a chain, a worker has to reattach the chain on the way down the ladder with one hand while the hazard is behind the worker. A self-closing gate that does not require a worker to do this is generally superior.
The reason many people are unaware of this danger and think chains are adequate protection is because of an Occupational Safety and Health Association letter of interpretation from 1982. That letter said it was permissible to use a chain if it was as safe as a gate. As a cost-saving measure, many manufacturers switched to chains instead of ladders on their equipment.
In November 2016, OSHA said it would begin to require self-closing gates because it no longer believed that chains were sufficient for workplace safety. According to the new OSHA code, an entrance to a ladderway has to be protected by an offset or self-closing gate.
Employees may be injured on the job even when employers take necessary precautions. Such victims may be eligible for workers’ compensation regardless of who or what caused the accident. Injured individuals might want to consult an attorney to find out what their rights are and for assistance in preparing a claim. An attorney may also assist with an appeal.