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OSHA Ladder and Stairway Glossary

Below is a small excerpt of OSHA terms and definitions as they apply to stairways and ladders. I hope this is helps you.


Alternating tread-type stair means a type of stairway consisting of a series of treads that usually are attached to a center support in an alternating manner such that an employee typically does not have both feet on the same level while using the stairway.

Cage means an enclosure mounted on the side rails of a fixed ladder or fastened to a structure behind the fixed ladder that is designed to surround the climbing space of the ladder. A cage also is called a “cage guard” or “basket guard.”

Carrier means the track of a ladder safety system that consists of a flexible cable or rigid rail attached to the fixed ladder or immediately adjacent to it.

buy combination laddersCombination ladder means a portable ladder that can be used as a stepladder, extension ladder, trestle ladder, or stairway ladder. The components of a combination ladder also may be used separately as a single ladder.

Dockboard means a portable or fixed device that spans a gap or compensates for a difference in elevation between a loading platform and a transport vehicle. Dockboards include, but are not limited to, bridge plates, dock plates, and dock levelers.

Extension ladder means a non-selfsupporting portable ladder that is adjustable in length.

Failure means a load refusal, breakage, or separation of component parts. A load refusal is the point at which the ultimate strength of a component or object is exceeded.

Fall hazard means any condition on a walking-working surface that exposes an employee to a risk of harm from a fall on the same level or to a lower level.

Fall protection means any equipment, device, or system that prevents an employee from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.

Fixed ladder means a ladder with rails or individual rungs that is permanently attached to a structure, building, or equipment. Fixed ladders include individual-rung ladders, but not ship stairs, step bolts, or manhole steps.

Grab bar means an individual horizontal or vertical handhold installed to provide access above the height of the ladder.

Guardrail system means a barrier erected along an unprotected or exposed side, edge, or other area of a walkingworking surface to prevent employees from falling to a lower level.

Handrail means a rail used to provide employees with a handhold for support.

Hoist area means any elevated access opening to a walking-working surface through which equipment or materials are loaded or received.

Individual-rung ladder means a ladder that has rungs individually attached to a building or structure. An individual-rung ladder does not include manhole steps.

Ladder means a device with rungs, steps, or cleats used to gain access to a different elevation.

Ladder safety system means a system designed to eliminate or reduce the possibility of falling from a ladder. A ladder safety system usually consists of a carrier, safety sleeve, lanyard, connectors, and body harness. Cages and wells are not ladder safety systems.

Maximum intended load means the total load (weight and force) of all employees, equipment, vehicles, tools, materials, and other loads the employer reasonably anticipates to be applied to a walking-working surface at any one time.

Mobile means manually propelled or moveable.

buy warehouse mobile stairsMobile ladder stand (ladder stand) means a mobile, fixed-height, selfsupporting ladder that usually consists of wheels or casters on a rigid base and steps leading to a top step. A mobile ladder stand also may have handrails and is designed for use by one employee at a time.

Mobile ladder stand platform means a mobile, fixed-height, self-supporting unit having one or more standing platforms that are provided with means of access or egress.

Open riser means the gap or space between treads of stairways that do not have upright or inclined members (risers).

Platform means a walking-working surface that is elevated above the surrounding area.

Portable ladder means a ladder that can readily be moved or carried, and usually consists of side rails joined at intervals by steps, rungs, or cleats.

Qualified describes a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

Riser means the upright (vertical) or inclined member of a stair that is located at the back of a stair tread or platform and connects close to the front edge of the next higher tread, platform, or landing.

Rung, step, or cleat means the crosspiece of a ladder on which an employee steps to climb up and down.

Scaffold means any temporary elevated or suspended platform and its supporting structure, including anchorage points, used to support employees, equipment, materials, and other items. For purposes of this subpart, a scaffold does not include a crane-suspended or derrick-suspended personnel platform or a rope descent system.

Ship stair (ship ladder) means a stairway that is equipped with treads, stair rails, and open risers, and has a slope that is between 50 and 70 degrees from the horizontal.

buy wall and dock laddersSide-step ladder means a type of fixed ladder that requires an employee to step sideways from it in order to reach a walking-working surface, such as a landing.

Spiral stairs means a series of treads attached to a vertical pole in a winding fashion, usually within a cylindrical space.

Stair rail or stair rail system means a barrier erected along the exposed or open side of stairways to prevent employees from falling to a lower level.

Stairway (stairs) means risers and treads that connect one level with another, and includes any landings and platforms in between those levels. Stairways include standard, spiral, alternating tread-type, and ship stairs.

Standard stairs means a fixed or permanently installed stairway. Ship, spiral, and alternating tread-type stairs are not considered standard stairs.

Step bolt (pole step) means a bolt or rung attached at intervals along a structural member used for foot placement and as a handhold when climbing or standing.

Stepladder means a self-supporting, portable ladder that has a fixed height, flat steps, and a hinged back.

Stepstool means a self-supporting, portable ladder that has flat steps and side rails. For purposes of the final rule, stepstool includes only those ladders that have a fixed height, do not have a pail shelf, and do not exceed 32 inches (81 cm) in overall height to the top cap, although side rails may extend above the top cap. A stepstool is designed so an employee can climb and stand on all of the steps and the top cap.

Through ladder means a type of fixed ladder that allows the employee to step through the side rails at the top of the ladder to reach a walking-working surface, such as a landing.

Tread means a horizontal member of a stair or stairway, but does not include landings or platforms

Unprotected sides and edges mean any side or edge of a walking-working surface (except at entrances and other points of access) where there is no wall, guardrail system, or stair rail system to protect an employee from falling to a lower level.

Walking-working surface means any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location.

Well means a permanent, complete enclosure around a fixed ladder.


About Sunset Ladder & Scaffold
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.