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Can Ladders Without Cages Cause Serious Injuries?

Posted by Inna Gorin | Dec 30, 2023

Fixed ladders without a cage cause more accidents than those with cages. These ladders go more than 20 feet in the air, and the cage protects the user from falling. 

Cages are essential at the top when the user is maneuvering from the top rung to the building. Without a cage there, it is much more likely that any fall you sustain could cause serious, if not fatal, injuries. 

Can Ladders Without Cages Cause Serious Injuries?

Simply put, fixed ladders with no cage at the top can increase the chance of an accident that can cause severe injuries as they often extend up to 20 feet. When these ladders have no cage, anyone climbing them has nothing to protect them from a fall.

The cage is essential at the top of the ladder. If you fall from that height, it will typically lead to serious or even fatal ladder injuries. The top of the ladder is also where you must carefully maneuver from the ladder to the building or structure where you are most likely to fall.

A fixed ladder without a cage increases the chances of an accident. In the construction industry, falls are a common accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claims new regulations phasing out fixed ladder cages will protect workers. Still, it might increase the chances of workers sustaining injuries under these new rules.

Workers who are injured climbing fixed ladders with no cage might have to turn to workers’ compensation to get the financial help they need to recover. Sometimes, they might be able to bring a ladder accident lawsuit in civil court.

What is a Fixed Ladder?

A cage on a fixed ladder is a series of metal rings connected to the ladder that form a tube-like fence running up it. These rings surround anyone who is climbing up the ladder. Suppose a climber loses their grip on the rungs of the ladder. In that case, the rings can catch and keep them from falling.

A fixed ladder is usually attached to the side of a building. It is “fixed,” so it cannot be moved around like a traditional ladder. Generally, you will see a fixed ladder on the side of the following:

  • water tower,
  • apartment complexes,
  • farm silo,
  • high-voltage power lines. 

Fixed ladders are sturdier than traditional ladders, which is why they go higher. Considering the height these ladders can reach, extra precautions should be taken to prevent unauthorized people from climbing them and protect those who are supposed to.

Are Fixed Ladders Regulated?

The short answer is yes. Federal regulations have nearly always required fixed ladders taller than 20 feet to have cages. The cage was supposed to extend at least 42 inches past the top of the ladder landing. But, if there was another form of protection near the top, the extension did not have to reach that far. 

Recently, though, those regulations have been altered. Only fixed ladders of 24 feet or higher must have a cage or ladder safety system with a body harness. 

Fixed ladders made after 2018 cannot have a cage at all – they must have the ladder safety system and body harness. By 2036, all fixed ladders in California must be fitted with the ladder safety system, and cages will be outlawed.

Workers are at Risk Without Fixed Ladder Cages

Unfortunately, these new regulations do not provide extra protection for workers climbing fixed ladders. The new rules will likely increase the number of injuries workers experience. 

While a “ladder safety system” and body harness sound like they would be safe, it creates additional risks. Workers are forced to stop what they are doing to get into a body harness before climbing up or down the fixed ladder. Rushed workers may skip the extra step and forgo the harness altogether, which, if they fall, could lead to serious and even fatal injuries. 

Cages extending past the top of the fixed ladder keep climbers secure before climbing down and while trying to climb over the edge of the building. The ladder safety system will provide no such protection at a point when it is needed the most. 

Workers will maneuver into and out of the safety harness instead of being protected by the cage when they are most vulnerable. While fixed ladder cages are expensive to mount, they provide greater safety for workers. Ladder safety systems seem just to be a way for employers and property owners to cut costs. 

Additionally, falls are among the top four accidents in the construction industry that lead to fatalities. Workers injured during a fall from a fixed ladder can turn to workers' compensation to help pay for their medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Further, they can bring a ladder accident lawsuit in civil court. 

Can You File a Ladder Accident Lawsuit?

In California, someone who falls from a fixed ladder can bring a personal injury suit for monetary damages against the construction company, property owner, ladder manufacturer, store that sold the ladder, or anyone else who might have caused the accident. The exact defendant will depend on what issue gave rise to the accident. For instance:

  • Was the ladder defective?
  • Did the construction company owe the victim a duty of care, and then the construction company breached that duty?
  • Or were there dangerous conditions surrounding the ladder that caused the victim to be injured?

Whatever the cause, a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help walk you through the necessary steps to be adequately compensated for your injuries.

The specific cause of your ladder accident may be relevant when determining liability.  To file a lawsuit against the ladder company, it must be proven that you suffered harm and that the ladder defect was a substantial factor causing you harm.

Some of the most common injuries sustained in a ladder accident include a head injury, broken leg or arm, concussion, back injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or a spinal cord injury.

If you were injured or a family member was killed in a ladder accident, contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal case. We will closely evaluate the specific details of your accident and then discuss the best next steps in your case. Injury Justice Law Firm has two offices in Los Angeles County, and we serve clients throughout Southern California. 

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About the Author

Inna Gorin

Inna Gorin, the founding Partner of Injury Justice Law Firm modeled the Firm after her ideals and principles of what skilled, aggressive and tenacious representation of individual clients should embody. Ms. Gorin's mission is to level the playing field, and provide her clients with the same level...


If you have been injured in an accident, our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys will protect your legal rights and help you recover compensation for your injuries. We are available 24/7 for your risk free initial consultation in Beverly Hills, Encino, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley, Valencia and Ventura County areas.