Describes the OSHA rules for use of a portable ladder to access an upper landing surface – the side rails must extend at least 3 feet above the landing surface.
RuleWhen using portable ladders to access an upper landing surface, the ladder side rails must extend at least 3 feet (.9 m) above the landing surface where the ladder is being used; or when such an
extension is not possible because of the ladder’s length, the ladder must be secured at its top to a rigid support that will not deflect, and a grasping device—such as a grabrail—must be provided to assist employees in mounting and dismounting the ladder. The extension must never be such that ladder deflection under a load would, by itself, cause the ladder to slip off its support.
The rule protects employees during two critical phases of ladder climbing:
- When employees are on the ladder and their movement may affect the ladder and its support points, making it slip or fall; and
- When the employee
is either getting on or off the ladder. If nothing is available to grab
and provide support, the employee will be in a bent-over position and
his or her center of gravity may be outside the vertical line of normal
body position, making the employee vulnerable
to a fall.
The rule specifies:
Side rails must extend 3 feet above the landing. Or when this is not possible,
secure side rails at the top to a rigid support—e.g., by tying with
rope or boxing in with lumber—and provide a grab device. The grasping
device can be made of metal or
lumber and can be part of the structure, providing its location does not create a hazard in itself and it can be easily grasped. In addition, secure ladders to prevent them from deflecting and slipping while in use.
- Slip and
fall from elevation.
- Probable injuries
range from death to broken bones and sprains/strains.
(Among Other) Suggested
- Abatement is
obvious. Construct/ use ladders according to specification requirements.
- Instruct employees and supervisors to inspect ladders during each shift in their work area.
Selected Case Histories
An employee climbing a 10-foot ladder to access a landing 9 feet above the adjacent floor fell when the ladder slid down. He sustained fatal injuries. Although the ladder had slip-resistant feet, it was not secured, and the railings did not extend 3 feet above the landing.
- This standard
covers only portable ladders. A similar requirement for fixed ladders
is outlined in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1926.1053(a)
- This is a specification
standard that is easily identified and substantiated as a violation—as
evidenced by its high ranking on the 100 Most Cited Physical List. Therefore,
the contractor must continually audit the site to ensure compliance
with this rule.
to Aid in Compliance
- 29 CFR
Subpart X. JSHQ
The portable ladder extends 3 feet above the opening (landing) of the confined space. Note: The guarding of the floor hole except at the entrance for the ladder is acceptable.