Ask the Expert, Personnel Safety, Q&A

Q&A: Climbing Ladders

Recently, a subscriber asked us the following question:

Is there a requirement for using rungs versus rails when climbing on fixed vertical ladders or portable step/extension ladders?

This was our response:

There is no OSHA requirement for using rungs versus rails for placement of hands when climbing any ladders. OSHA’s guidance for portable and fixed ladder safety says, “Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing.” There is no further clarification concerning hand placement. OSHA guidance documents consistently show images of workers climbing ladders with hands on the rungs. For example, see the OSHA QuickCard at

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