To ensure construction workers are working safely on portable ladders, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) has developed some portable construction ladder safety guidelines:
The construction ladder load guidelines refer to two different types of ladders; self-supporting or foldout ladders such as A-frame ladders, and non-self-supporting or leaning ladders such as extension ladders. Both ladder types must be able to support at least 4 times the maximum intended load. The only exception is for extra-heavy-duty metal or plastic ladders which must sustain 3.3 times the maximum intended load.
For more information about ladder load capacities, make sure to check out our What are Ladder Duty Ratings and Ladder Load Capacities? article.
Non-self-supporting ladders such as extension ladders, must lean against a wall or other support, are to be positioned at such an angle that the horizontal distance from the top support to the base of the ladder is about ¼ the working length of the ladder.
In the case of wooden construction ladders being built on the job site, that angle should be equal to about 1/8 the working length. This minimizes the strain of the load on the construction ladder’s joints that may not be as strong as on commercially manufactured ladders.
For more information about how to place extension ladders, make sure to check out our How to Place Extension Ladders article.
Ladder rungs must be skid-resistant and shaped so that the construction worker’s foot cannot slide off.
Ladder rungs or steps must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when the construction ladder is in setup for use. The rungs must have spacing between 10” – 14” inches apart.
Extension trestle ladders must have spacing between 8” – 18” inches for the base, and between 6” – 12” inches on the extended section.
Slipping Hazard Guidelines
All ladders are to be kept free of oil, grease, wet paint and other slipping hazards. Wood ladders must not be coated with any type of opaque covering, except for identification or warning labels on one face of the side rail.
Other Ladder Requirements
Stepladders or A-frame ladders must have a metal spreader or locking device to hold the front and back sections in a secure open position when being used.
When two or more ladders are being used to reach a work area, they must be offset with a landing or platform between each ladder.
Areas around the top and bottom of the ladders in use must be kept clear.
Never tie or fasten ladders together to create longer sections, unless they are specifically designed for that purpose. And never use a ladder for any other purpose than how it was designed to be used.
If you follow the construction ladder guidelines above each time you work with your ladders, you are more likely to go home after your work day has ended rather than to the doctor or emergency room.
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Sunset Ladder and Scaffold rents and sells the safest and highest quality ladders, scaffolding and related products available since 1929. We rent and sell ALL types of ladders and scaffolding that the industry offers including our own American-made Sunset Ladder Co and EZ Lift brands.