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OSHA says use gates instead of ladders for fall protection

Some Texas workers might not know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has deemed chains unsafe as fall protection for ladders. According to an OSHA rule from 2016, either an offset or a self-closing gate must be used at entrances to ladder holes.

The confusion about the safety of chains is because of an OSHA letter of interpretation from 1982. This letter stated that if chains were at least as safe as a gate, they could be used instead. Manufacturers then began using chains in order to save money, and people became accustomed to seeing the chains on equipment and continued to assume they were safe.

However, unlike self-closing gates, chains cannot close themselves, and this interferes with workplace safety. A worker who is on a ladder that uses chains for fall protection must attach the chains with one hand while they are on the ladder. While they are doing this, their back is to the hazard, and the worker might make an error or may fall.

If a person is injured on the job, whether it is a fall because of chains failing to protect them or in some other way, they may be dealing with a long recovery period, mounting medical bills and lost income from missing work. The person may be eligible for workers' compensation even if their employer tells them they are not. In addition, if an employer's negligence or another employee's actions caused the injury, there might be other legal avenues for compensation that the individual can pursue. The individual may want to discuss the accident and how they might proceed with an attorney. Injured workers might also want to consult an attorney if they face retaliation at work. Denying a worker a promotion, harassing them or firing them for applying for workers' compensation is not allowed.

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