Requirements for OSHA cage ladders

Written by carl miller
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Requirements for OSHA cage ladders
Cage ladders are primarily used in industrial workplaces. (la cuve image by Richard villalon from

A cage ladder is a type of fixed ladder with, as the name implies, a connected cage. The cage extends out from the ladder, creating a sort of safety tunnel around the user; in case he should lose grip he can fall back against the cage and catch himself. Cage ladders are most commonly used in industrial-type settings where fairly tall ladders are required. OSHA regulates all fixed ladders in the United States, including those with cages.


The cage on a cage ladder is typically semicircular, rounded behind the back of the user. The back of the cage must extend between 27 and 30 inches from each ladder rang, measured from the centre of the rang. The cage must be connected to the ladder, or to the building/structure to which the ladder is fixed, by horizontal bands, and there must be a horizontal band at least every 4 feet. There also must be vertical bars, no more than 9.5 inches from each other, connecting the horizontal bands. The vertical bars must also be connected to the inside of the horizontal bands. The bottom of the cage must be flared out (wider at the entrance), and the flared part should begin at least 4 inches above the bottom horizontal band.


Cages are required on fixed ladders more than 20 feet in height. However, even cage ladders may only measure, unbroken (without landings), up to 30 feet in height; when a height of more than 30 feet must be ascended multiple ladders must be implemented, with breaks and landings every 30 feet (every 20 feet for non-caged ladders). The bottom of the cage must start between 7 and 8 feet above the ground or base from which the ladder rises, and the top must extend at least 42 inches above the landing to which the ladder reaches. Where the cage extends above the landing, there must be an opening or gate through which to exit.


Landings are basically platforms that must be implemented at breaks when multiple ladders are used. The landing must offset the connecting ladders, so it can stop a person from falling all the way to the ground. Landings must be at least 30 inches long and 24 inches wide, with protective railings and toe boards.


There should never be any bar, board or other object that projects into the inside of the cage. Also a cage or cage ladder that has been found to be defective must be taken out of use immediately, by way of a “do not use” sign, boarded-up entrance or other obvious indicator, until it has been repaired.

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