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Gates provide best ladder protection for workers

Many businesses across the United States use chains to guard ladder openings, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a new rule requiring they be protected by self-closing gates. New Jersey employers should assess their workplaces to make sure they are in compliance with this regulation.

According to safety experts, ladder chains don't provide enough protection because they require workers to hook them in place. In order to reattach the chains, employees must stand on ladders with their backs to the hazard, needlessly exposing them to danger. In comparison, a self-closing gate always guards a ladder opening by eliminating the chance of user errors from occurring.

Many businesses began using chains following a 1982 OSHA letter that stated they could be used instead of gates in situations where a chain is "as least as effective as" a swinging gate. However, the agency's new fall protection rule, which went into effect on January 17, declares, "...double chains do not fully protect workers from falls at hole entrances." Therefore, the agency now requires that self-closing gates be used to guard all ladderway floor and platform holes. Employers should check the ladders in their facilities to ensure they have gates instead of chains.

Employees who have been injured in workplace accidents may be entitled to file workers' compensation claims, which could pay for their medical expenses and portions of their salaries as they recover. These individuals may find it helpful to consult with attorneys before filing their claims to make sure they are properly prepared. If an injured worker has already had a claim rejected, an attorney could review the case and file an appeal on his or her behalf.

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