Fixed Ladders

Finally, I would like to address fixed ladders. OSHA 1910.27 is the standard that is used for fixed ladders.

The fixed ladder is made up of steps called rungs that can either be fixated into the wall or placed on two rails that are vertically upright. The purpose of the fixed ladder is to provide access to workers for areas above the ceiling or below the floor.

Fixed ladders are usually designed for a concentrated load of at least 200 pounds.

Fixed ladders used to be made of wood. In some circumstances, they still can, but the design criteria are different. The load for a wooden ladder is addressed in 1910.25.

Rungs must have a minimum diameter of three-fourths of an inch for metal ladders and a “minimum diameter of one and one-eighth inches for wood ladders” (41123, 2016).

The distance between rungs must not be more than 12 inches and must be uniform throughout the length of the ladder. The minimum length of rungs must be 16 inches.

Side rails can be used to help the person climb. Thus, they should be made with a surface that is gripping without sharp edges, splinters, or burrs.

It is important to paint metal ladders to resist corrosion and rusting.

It is also important to treat wooden ladders when they are in conditions where the wood can get wet, and decay may occur.

“On fixed ladders, the perpendicular distance from the centerline of the rungs to the nearest permanent object on the climbing side of the ladder shall be 36 inches for a pitch of 76 degrees, and 30 inches for a pitch of 90 degrees” (Fixed, 2016). This gives the person climbing the ladder room behind them to climb.

Most ladders that are used for climbing to have a hatch above that must be opened. There should be a counterweight on the hatch that allows it to be opened a minimum of 60 degrees.

Cages must be provided on ladders of more than 20 feet. Cages wrap around the ladder, protecting the sides and rear of the climber.

“Cages shall extend down the ladder to a point not less than 7 feet” from the base (Fixed, 2106).

When ladders are used to climb down, they usually come with a ladder well. This well must have a clear width of at least 30 inches from the centerline of the rungs.

When ladders are used to climb more than 20 feet, they often come with a landing platforms. Platforms shall be not less than 24 inches in width and 30 inches in length. If the ladder is a lot taller than 20 feet more than on landing may be necessary. The landing platforms must be equipped with standard railings and toe boards.

At the top of the ladder, there are often vertical grab bars that help the climber get up, and onto the surface they are hoping to reach. These grab bars should have the same diameter as the round rungs.

Fixed ladders appear to go straight up and down. However, they have a pitch to them. The preferred pitch of fixed ladders shall be considered to be in the range of 75 degrees and 90 degrees with the horizontal (Fixed, 2016). They lean towards the top of the ladder.

Owners must maintain all ladders in a safe working condition. They should inspect the ladders regularly, with the intervals between inspections being determined by use and exposure.


4123:1-5-03 Ladders and scaffolds. – Ohio Bureau of, (accessed December 08, 2016).

Fixed ladders. – 1910.27 | Occupational Safety and Health, (accessed December 08, 2016).

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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