Safety cage or fall arrester?

Last edit: 25/07/2023

The 2004 edition of EN ISO 14122-4 contained the following text concerning the danger of falling:] Note: an appropriate personal protective device against falls can stop the fall better than a cage.

In the Instructions for use, the following text was reported:

6.2 Instructions for using ladders with fall arrest
In the instructions for using, the prescriptions of EN ISO 12100-2 and EN 353-1 must be taken into account.

6.3 Marking at access and exit points
Ladders with guided type fall arrester must be permanently marked with the following information:
– type and construction year of the guided type fall arrester;
– warning: "The use of personal protective equipment is mandatory".
The marking is required only in those access and exit points that can be reached through the respective ladders.

These facts and the general approach of the law had raised a formal objection by the French, pursuant to Article 6, par. 1, of the Machinery Directive in that time(98/37/CE). The cause of this objection was that the rule placed the accent and gave priority to the devices of personal protection against falling with respect to the presence of a cage and a correct maximum height of the ladder.

The standard was therefore removed from the list of harmonized standards for a few years. The new edition of ISO EN ISO 14122-4 (last edition 2016) has modified the approach, giving priority to the presence of the protective cage. Here is an important step:

4.2 Choice of a type fall protection device

4.2.1 Necessity of a fall protection device.
In case of an overall falling height equal or higher than 3000 mm, the ladder shall be fitted with a fall protection device.

4.2.2 Types of protection device.
The main aternatives for protection of the users of fixed ladders against falling from height are the following:
a) Safety Cage
The cage is a means wich is always present and the actual level of safety is independent of the operator's actions, therefore it is the preffered choice.
b) Guided type fall arrester on rigid anchorage (fall arrester)
A  fall arrester in only effective if the user chooses to use it. If a harness with an incompatible sliding system is used with a guided type fall arrester, there will be a risk of falling.

A combination of both safety cage and fall arrester shall not be applied.

The part of the standard that gives requirements for the Instructions for use was also modified as follows:

7.1.2  Ladder systems with fall arrester 

The  relevant provisions  of ISO  12100  as  well  as  of EN  353·1  shall  be  presented  in  the  instruction handbook  supplied with the machine. 
The following minimum information shall be provided  when the ladder system includes a  fall arrester:
– advice that a ladder with fall arrester shall be used  only by well-trained users;
– advice on  the risk of falling while using an  incompatible self-locking guided  type  fall arrester and incompatible  lanyard with the rigid anchor line;
– advice on how to use the harness, as provided  by the manufacturer,  with the guide lock;
– advice on how to instruct the authorized  person(s) in the safe operation of ladders with fall arrester; 
– advice on how movable parts shall be locked in the intended  positions when in use and in the stored position. 

One conclusion is that a Ladder provided with a Safety Cage in conformity with the present stanard does not require a fall arrester.


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