Ladders: What you need to know

OSHA has developed detailed regulations for the proper design, construction, and use of ladders in general industry workplaces. The regulations describe requirements for the construction, care, and use of portable wooden ladders, care and use of portable metal ladders, and design and maintenance requirements for fixed ladders. There are also requirements for manually propelled mobile ladder stands. There are separate rules for ladders in construction work not covered in this analysis.

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Careless use and poor maintenance of ladders are frequent causes of falls, injuries, and, occasionally, deaths. OSHA’s ladder rules are designed to eliminate workplace hazards associated with ladders.

29 CFR 1910.25 to 1910.27

The following general design and use specifications apply to all ladders:

  • The length of single ladders must not exceed 30 feet (ft).
  • Ladder rungs, cleats, and steps must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when the ladder is in position for use.
  • Ladders must not be tied or fastened together to create longer sections unless they are specifically designed for such use.
  • When splicing side rails, the resulting side rail must be equivalent in strength to a one-piece side rail made of the same material.

All wood ladders. Wood ladders must not be coated with any opaque covering except for identification or warning labels, which may be placed only on one face of a side rail.

Safe Work Practices

The following safe practices apply to all ladders:

  • Never use ladders as guys, braces, skids, gin poles, or for other than their intended purposes.
  • Maintain ladders free of oil, grease, and other slipping hazards.
  • Do not load ladders beyond their maximum intended load or beyond their ...

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