Temporary Ladders

There are many types of ladders for many different purposes. There are portable and fixed ladders. There are portable ladders that support themselves and others that don’t support themselves. There are fixed ladders attached to buildings, towers, and antennas.

Non-self-supporting ladders are ladders that lean against a wall or other support. To get the right ladder, the weight of the worker and the weight of everything carried up and down the ladder must be determined. Furthermore, a ladder must support four times the maximum expected load. Manufacturers rate their ladders so users will know how much weight the ladder can hold. Per the Ladder Safety Institute, there are five categories of ladder Duty Ratings:

  • Type IAA (Extra Heavy Duty) 375 pounds
  • Type IA (Extra Heavy Duty) 300 pounds
  • Type I (Heavy Duty) 250 pounds
  • Type II (Medium Duty) 225 pounds
  • Type III (Light Duty) 200 pounds

Ladders are made of wood, metal, and fiberglass. When working with electricity, a non-metallic ladder must be used to reduce the risk of electric shock.

Non-self-supporting ladders are leaned against a wall or support. When using a ladder for access to the upper landing surface, the side rails must extend “at least three feet above the top landing” surface (Pre-Installation, 2016). Also, the ladder is placed at an angle with the foot away from the wall the distance ¼ of the ladder length. A quick example: when using a 20-foot ladder the bottom feet are positioned five feet out from the wall the ladder leans against. This formula is ¼ of 20 feet or five feet. The worker must add the ¼ of the ladder length and the additional three feet to the length to determine total ladder height.

On construction sites, Double Cleated Ladders are used. This ladder has double-cleats with a center rail. This type can be two or more ladders joined. There is only one situation to use this kind of ladder -when it is the only way for 25 or more employees to enter or exit the work simultaneously.

There are many things to do to prevent hazards from becoming a reality. “It begins with selecting the right ladder for the job” (Ladder, 2016). Using ladders for their intended purpose is also important, and workers should never:

  • Tie ladders together to make longer sections
  • Place ladders on top of things to gain extra height
  • Paint a covering on a wood ladder that prevents seeing damage
  • “Use the top step of a stepladder as a step” (Before, 2016)
  • Use cross bracing on the rear of a stepladder for climbing

Because portable ladders are moved and transported, it is imperative to keep them in a safe condition and good working order. The rungs, cleats, and steps must be level and uniformly spaced at 10 to 14 inches apart. Side rails must be at least 11½ inches apart. A competent person should inspect ladders before each use. Those with visible defects should be removed from service and label with “Do Not Use” installed.

“Ladders should only be used on stable and level surfaces unless secured” (Safety Meeting, 2016). To secure a ladder, attach it to a fixed object. This will prevent it from accidentally moving due to work being done on the ladder. The area around the top and bottom of the ladder must be kept clear. The area at the bottom of the ladder should also be kept free of slipping hazards.

When climbing, the ladder workers should face the ladder whether going up or down. Workers should use three points of the contract while climbing and not carry objects or loads that could cause them to lose balance. This means two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder always.

If the fixed ladder is longer than 24 feet, it must be equipped with a ladder safety device or self-retracting lifeline. This type of ladder also requires a rest platform every 150 feet or less, a cage or well, and multiple ladder sections not more than 50 feet in height.

Workers must be trained to use ladders safely. This training should be done by a competent person and provided before a worker uses a ladder. The training should help workers understand:

  • What causes falls
  • The proper selection, use, placement, and care of ladders
  • How to properly erect, maintain, and disassemble a ladder
  • The maximum intended load-carrying capacities of ladders

Knowing this information helps workers identify risks and the steps necessary to prevent hazards from causing an accident.

Ladders allow construction workers to work at heights, which is essential to their job because workers need to build a building at all levels. This puts workers at risk of falls. A fall from even six feet can result in the death of a worker. Additional information can again be found in OSHA Publication 3124, titled “Stairways and Ladders.” This booklet can be found at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3124.pdf.


Before the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health Review Board, http://aws.state.ak.us/officeofadminhearings/Documents/OSH/OSH070079.pdf (accessed December 08, 2016).

Pre-Installation Preparation Job Aid, http://wildbluetools.com/content/FS/20/22/002_PreInstallPrepJobAid.pdf (accessed December 08, 2016).

Safety Meeting Topic: Ladder Safety, http://www.ehscompliance.com/toolbox_topics/Ladder%20Safety.pdf (accessed December 08, 2016).

Stepladder Safety – Ladder Mart, http://www.laddermart.com/news-12/stepladder-safety.html (accessed December 08, 2016).

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning currently writes biweekly on his blog fredefanningauthor.com. His published works include the peer-reviewed book Basic Safety Administration-A Handbook for the New Safety Specialist. Fred also authored two editions of the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training and Documentation Principles that was published in the bestselling Safety Professional Handbook and the Safety Professional Handbook Management Applications. He coauthored the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training with Christine Fiori, Ph.D., PE, published in the bestselling Construction Safety Management and Engineering, second edition edited by Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP. Fred also has several self-published books. He has a series called Fred’s Safety Shorts. This is a collection of twelve books on topics related to safety published with Kindle Direct Publishing. Fred self-published another six books using both CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and Kindle Direct Publishing. He has authored fifty-eight articles in various publications on the topics of safety and health and project management. Fred has earned several writing awards for his non-fiction work. Fred has two novels A Walk Among the Dead and Mystery at Devil’s Elbow.
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