Special Topics in Safety Management

Ladder Safety Q&A

Today, we present some questions about ladder safety sent to Safety.BLR.com by safety professionals and other managers, with answers from our experts.

Are ladder safety cables required to have an annual inspection?

1926.1053(b)(15)

Ladders shall be inspected by a competent person for visible defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use.

1926.1053(b)(16)

Portable ladders with structural defects, such as, but not limited to, broken or missing rungs, cleats, or steps, broken or split rails, corroded components, or other faulty or defective components, shall either be immediately marked in a manner that readily identifies them as defective, or be tagged with “Do Not Use” or similar language, and shall be withdrawn from service until repaired.

Are rolling stairs, like the type used in a warehouse, considered as portable metal ladders when referring to OSHA regulations?

1910.21(g)(9)”Ladder stand.” A mobile fixed size self-supporting ladder consisting of a wide flat tread ladder in the form of stairs. The assembly may include handrails.

If the equipment in question meets the definition of a ladder stand, it would be regulated under 1910.29 (Manually propelled mobile ladder stands and scaffolds), not portable metal ladders.

What are the OSHA rules for fall protection when using portable ladders, such as step or extension ladders?

There are no specific fall protection requirements for portable ladders. Ladders are to be kept free of oil, grease, wet paint, and other slipping hazards.


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Are there any requirements or guidance documents on storing portable ladders?

There are no OSHA requirements for ladder storage. OSHA generally instructs employers to follow manufacturer recommendations concerning the safety, storage, and maintenance of equipment. Contact the ladder manufacturer or go to their website for maintenance and care instructions.

Following are some general guidelines for portable ladders:

  • Hang a ladder horizontally on wall hooks in a dry place not subject to extremes of temperatures.
  • The user can do minor maintenance, like lubricating hinges and tightening hardware.

What do portable ladder load restrictions include?

The load rating includes the weight of the person and any materials or equipment he or she is carrying (e.g., tool belts, aprons).

Is there an OSHA requirement for a written monthly inspection on all portable metal ladders, or does a written inspection need to be conducted every time it is used?

There is no OSHA requirement for a written monthly inspection on all portable metal ladders.

The construction regulation for ladders states the following:

1926.1053(b)(15)

Ladders shall be inspected by a competent person for visible defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use.


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BLR’s Portable Ladders safety plan states the following:

INSPECTIONS

All ladders will be inspected regularly, with the intervals between inspections being determined by use and exposure. A competent person will inspect ladders for visible defects periodically and after any incident that could affect their safe use.

All ladders will be inspected for:

  • Shake
  • Wane
  • Compression failures
  • Decay
  • Other irregularities

If a ladder tips over, immediately inspect it before subsequent use for:

  • Side rail dents or bends
  • Damage to rung-to-side-rail connections
  • Damage to hardware connections
  • Rivets for shear

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