OSHA is changing its standard for fixed ladders. OSHA currently requires that ladders, where the climb is over 24 feet, are equipped with a cage, well, ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system. When standard 1910.28 takes effect, on November 19 2018, fixed ladders over 24 feet will be required to have fall protection in the form of a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system, a cage or well is no longer allowed.
ANSI Standard A14.3
OSHA is changing their regulations for fixed ladders to be more in line with their other standards and ANSI standard A14.3.
If you have ladders with cages at this moment you do not have to worry about changing those ladders immediately. You have until November 19, 2036 to replace cages on your fixed ladders with a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system. And no, that is not a typo, you have 20 years to replace your existing caged ladders.
However if your ladder needs repairs or replacements after November 19, these replacement sections must be equipped with a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system, that is not a cage or well.
You are still allowed to get fixed ladders with a cage installed until November 18, however as you will have to replace these ladders in 20 years it may be wise to work conform the new standard already.
Commit to the new OSHA standard for fixed ladders
For ladders extending more than 24 feet you have two choices of fall protection measures. A personal fall arrest system, which consists of a harness, lanyard and a suitable anchor point, or a ladder safety system, which is a vertical lifeline or rail system that runs the length of the ladder. A user connects the front D-ring of their harness to the ladder safety system with a robe grab or lanyard.
Whichever system you chose for your fixed ladder(s), make sure that the people using them receive training so they know how to properly use the fall protection systems.