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Fixed Ladders


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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Self-Inspection Checklist

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This checklist covers regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the general industry standard 29 CFR 1910.27. It applies to fixed ladders between the pitch range of 60E to 90E of the horizontal. Fixed ladders in the range of 75Eto 90Eof the horizontal are preferred. The regulations cited apply only to private employers and their employees, unless adopted by a State agency and applied to other groups such as public employees.

This checklist does not address fixed ladders with cages, baskets, wells, hatch covers, landing platforms, or ladders exceeding 20 feet in height (see 29 CFR 1910.27). It also does not address fixed ladders associated with construction sites (see 29 CFR 1926.1051 and 1926.1053). Consult the OSHA regulations for requirements in these situations.

  1. Is the distance between rungs 12 inches or less and uniform throughout the length of the ladder? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(ii)]
  2. Is the minimum clear length of rungs or cleats at least 16 inches? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(iii)]
  3. Are the rungs, cleats, and steps free of splinters, sharp edges, burrs, or other projections that are hazards? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(iv)]
  4. Are the rungs of ladders designed so that the foot cannot slip off the end? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(v)]
  5. Are the rungs of metal ladders at least three-fourths of one inch in diameter? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(i)]Note: If the ladder is embedded in concrete and serves as an access to pits or other atmospheres that cause corrosion and rusting, the rungs must be at least one inch in diameter or be painted or treated to resist corrosion and rusting. [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(7)(i)]
  6. Are the rungs of wood ladders at least 1-1/8 inches in diameter? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(i)]
  7. Do siderails that might be used as a climbing aid provide adequate gripping surface without sharp edges, splinters, or burrs? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(2)]
  8. Are metal ladders painted or treated to protect them from corrosion and rusting when location demands? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(7)(i)]
  9. Are wood ladders treated with a nonirritating preservative when used under conditions that may cause decay? [29 CFR 1910.27(b)(7)(ii)]
  10. Is the perpendicular distance from the center line of the rungs to the nearest permanent object on the climbing side of the ladder 36 inches for a pitch of 76o and 30 inches for a pitch of 90o? [29 CFR 1910.27(c)(1)]Note: The intent of this provision is to prevent the climber from bumping his or her head or shoulder on an object while climbing or descending the ladder.
  11. Is the distance from the center line of the rung, cleat, or step to the nearest permanent object behind the ladder at least 7 inches? [29 CFR 1910.27(c)(4)]Note: The purpose of this provision is to give adequate clearance so that the climber’s foot does not strike an object between the wall and the ladder and cause a fall.
  12. Is the distance from the center line of the grab bar to the nearest permanent object behind the grab bar at least 4 inches? [29 CFR 1910.27(c)(5)]Note: The purpose of this provision is to ensure that the climber can grab the bar quickly and easily.
  13. Is the step-across distance from the nearest edge of the ladder to the nearest edge of the equipment or structure not more than 12 inches and not less than 2-1/2 inches? [29 CFR 1910.27(c)(6)]Note: If the step-across distance is greater than 12 inches, a landing platform of at least 24 inches wide and 30 inches long must be provided with standard railings and toeboards. Consult the OSHA regulations 29 CFR 1910.27(d)(2)(ii) for requirements.
  14. Are the siderails of ladders extended at least 3-1/2 feet above the landing? [29 CFR 1910.27(d)(3)]Note: The purpose of this standard is to give the climber something to hold onto while getting off and onto the ladder.
  15. Are all ladders inspected regularly and maintained in a safe condition? [29 CFR 1910.27(f)]