Job-Built Ladders

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Construction Safety Association of Ontario

Summary Statement

Provides specifications for crafting a job-built ladder.
Winter 2000/2001

Build safety in from the start

On small projects many falls result from the lack of proper ladders. Accidents are caused by makeshift arrangements for reaching the roof, climbing in or out of foundations, getting from one floor to another, or getting down into basements before stairs are installed.

One solution is the job-built ladder. It can be constructed in single or double width for various uses. The time taken to build the ladder can be recovered in improved safety and efficiency.

Illustration showing how to build a ladder on the job

  1. 40 cm (16") minimum
    61 cm (24") maximum

  2. Side Rail 38 x 89 (2" x 4") for ladders under 5.8 m (19') and 38 x 140 mm (2" x 6") for ladders over 9 m (30').

  3. Filler Block 19 x 38 mm (1" x 2")

  4. Rung 19 x 64 mm (1" x 3") for side rails 40 cm (16") apart
    Rung 19 x 89 mm (1" x 4") for side rails over 40 cm (16") apart and up to 61 cm (24") apart.

Wood should be No. 1 grade spruce, straight-grained and free of large knots, sharp edges, splinters, and shakes.

General guidelines for ladder use apply also to job-built ladders.

Only one person at a time should be allowed on a single-width ladder. No more than two people should be allowed on a double-width ladder, each on a separate side.

In some cases, temporary job-built stairs will provide an even better solution to problems with access and the movement of workers and material.


  • Ladders data sheet (DS008)
  • Ladders video (FV012V)
  • Ladders safety tip (TP001)
  • Getting On/Off Ladders safety tip (TP010)
  • Beware of Wires sticker (S020)