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General Ladder Safety Checklist

Contributor: Safesite Jurisdiction: USA OSHA

general industry

When using ladders in the workplace, refer to this inspection checklist to avoid potential hazards such as stairwells near the worksite and slippery substances on the equipment and nearby surfaces.

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General Ladder Safety Checklist

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1. Working on and around stairways and ladders is hazardous. Stairways and ladders are major sources of injuries and fatalities among construction workers for example, and many of the injuries are serious enough to require time off the job. OSHA rules apply to all stairways and ladders used in construction, alteration, repair, painting, decorating and demolition of worksites covered by OSHA’s construction safety and health standards.


2. General Requirements: These rules specify when employers must provide stairways and ladders. In general, the standards require the following: When there is a break in elevation of 19 inches (48 cm) or more and no ramp, runway, embankment or personnel hoist is available, employers must provide a stairway or ladder at all worker points of access. When there is only one point of access between levels, employers must keep it clear of obstacles to permit free passage by work- ers. If free passage becomes restricted, employers must provide a second point of access and ensure that workers use it. When there are more than two points of access between levels, employers must ensure that at least one point of access remains clear. In addition, employers must install all stairway and ladder fall protection systems required by these rules and ensure that their worksite meets all requirements of the stairway and ladder rules before employees use stairways or ladders. See 29 CFR 1926.1050-1060 for the details of the standard. Note: The standard does not apply to ladders specifically manufactured for scaffold access and egress, but does apply to job-made and manufac- tured portable ladders intended for general purpose use. Rules for ladders used on or with scaffolds are addressed in 29 CFR 1926.451 Subpart L.


3. All Ladders The following rules apply to all ladders: Maintain ladders free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards. Do not load ladders beyond their maximum intended load nor beyond their manufacturer’s rated capacity. Use ladders only for their designed purpose. Use ladders only on stable and level surfaces unless secured to prevent accidental movement. Do not use ladders on slippery surfaces unless secured or provided with slip-resistant feet to prevent accidental movement. Do not use slip- resistant feet as a substitute for exercising care when placing, lashing or holding a ladder upon slippery surfaces. Secure ladders placed in areas such as pas- sageways, doorways or driveways, or where they can be displaced by workplace activities or traffic to prevent accidental movement. Or use a barricade to keep traffic or activity away from the ladder. Keep areas clear around the top and bottom of ladders. Do not move, shift or extend ladders while in use. Use ladders equipped with nonconductive side rails if the worker or the ladder could contact exposed energized electrical equipment. Face the ladder when moving up or down. Use at least one hand to grasp the ladder when climbing. Do not carry objects or loads that could cause loss of balance and falling.


4. All Ladders In addition, the following general requirements apply to all ladders, including ladders built at the jobsite: Double-cleated ladders or two or more ladders must be provided when ladders are the only way to enter or exit a work area where 25 or more employees work or when a ladder serves simultaneous two-way traffic. Ladder rungs, cleats and steps must be paral- lel, level and uniformly spaced when the lad- der is in position for use. Rungs, cleats and steps of portable and fixed ladders (except as provided below) must not be spaced less than 10 inches (25 cm) apart, nor more than 14 inches (36 cm) apart, along the ladder’s side rails. Rungs, cleats and steps of step stools must not be less than 8 inches (20 cm) apart, nor more than 12 inches (31 cm) apart, between center lines of the rungs, cleats and steps. Rungs, cleats and steps at the base section of extension trestle ladders must not be less than 8 inches (20 cm) nor more than 18 inches (46 cm) apart, between center lines of the rungs, cleats and steps. The rung spacing on the extension section must not be less than 6 inch- es (15 cm) nor more than 12 inches (31 cm).


5. All Ladders In addition, the following general requirements apply to all ladders, including ladders built at the jobsite: 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.


6. All Ladders In addition, the following general requirements apply to all ladders, including ladders built at the jobsite: Two or more separate ladders used to reach an elevated work area must be offset with a plat- form or landing between the ladders, except when portable ladders are used to gain access to fixed ladders. Ladder components must be surfaced to prevent snagging of clothing and injury from punctures or lacerations. 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. Note: A competent person must inspect ladders for visible defects periodically and after any incident that could affect their safe use.


7. Specific Types of Ladders: Do not use single-rail ladders. Use non-self-supporting ladders at an angle where the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is approxi- mately one-quarter of the working length of the ladder. Use wooden ladders built at the jobsite with spliced side rails at an angle where the hori- zontal distance is one-eighth of the working length of the ladder. In addition, the top of a non-self-supporting ladder must be placed with two rails supported equally unless it is equipped with a single support attachment.


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