Ladder OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.25-1910.27

• Part Number: 1910
• Part Title: Occupational Safety and Health Standards
• Subpart: D
• Subpart Title: Walking-Working Surfaces
• Standard Number: 1910.25-1910.27
• Title: Ladders

For employee training materials on Ladder Safety, please click here.


“Application of requirements.” This section is intended to prescribe rules and establish minimum requirements for the construction, care, and use of the common types of portable wood ladders, in order to insure safety under normal conditions of usage. Other types of special ladders, fruitpicker’s ladders, combination step and extension ladders, stockroom step ladders, aisle-way step ladders, shelf ladders, and library ladders are not specifically covered by this section.


“Materials” –


“Requirements applicable to all wood parts.”


All wood parts shall be free from sharp edges and splinters; sound and free from accepted visual inspection from shake, wane, compression failures, decay, or other irregularities. Low density wood shall not be used.


“Construction requirements.”





“Portable stepladders.” Stepladders longer than 20 feet shall not be supplied. Stepladders as hereinafter specified shall be of three types:

Type I   - Industrial stepladder, 3 to 20 feet for heavy duty, such
          as utilities, contractors, and industrial use.
Type II  - Commercial stepladder, 3 to 12 feet for medium duty, such
          as painters, offices, and light industrial use.
Type III - Household stepladder, 3 to 6 feet for light duty, such as
          light household use.


“General requirements.”




A uniform step spacing shall be employed which shall be not more than 12 inches. Steps shall be parallel and level when the ladder is in position for use.


The minimum width between side rails at the top, inside to inside, shall be not less than 11 1/2 inches. From top to bottom, the side rails shall spread at least 1 inch for each foot of length of stepladder.





A metal spreader or locking device of sufficient size and strength to securely hold the front and back sections in open positions shall be a component of each stepladder. The spreader shall have all sharp points covered or removed to protect the user. For Type III ladder, the pail shelf and spreader may be combined in one unit (the so-called shelf-lock ladder).



“Portable rung ladders.”




“Single ladder.”


Single ladders longer than 30 feet shall not be supplied.


“Two-section ladder.”


Two-section extension ladders longer than 60 feet shall not be supplied. All ladders of this type shall consist of two sections, one to fit within the side rails of the other, and arranged in such a manner that the upper section can be raised and lowered.


“Sectional ladder.”


Assembled combinations of sectional ladders longer than lengths specified in this subdivision shall not be used.


“Trestle and extension trestle ladder.”


Trestle ladders, or extension sections or base sections of extension trestle ladders longer than 20 feet shall not be supplied.



“Special-purpose ladders.”




“Painter’s stepladder.”


Painter’s stepladders longer than 12 feet shall not be supplied.


“Mason’s ladder.” A mason’s ladder is a special type of single ladder intended for use in heavy construction work.


Mason’s ladders longer than 40 feet shall not be supplied.


“Trolley and side-rolling ladders” –


“Length.” Trolley ladders and side-rolling ladders longer than 20 feet should not be supplied.


“Care and use of ladders” –


“Care.” To insure safety and serviceability the following precautions on the care of ladders shall be observed:



Ladders shall be maintained in good condition at all times, the joint between the steps and side rails shall be tight, all hardware and fittings securely attached, and the movable parts shall operate freely without binding or undue play.


Metal bearings of locks, wheels, pulleys, etc., shall be frequently lubricated.


Frayed or badly worn rope shall be replaced.


Safety feet and other auxiliary equipment shall be kept in good condition to insure proper performance.




Ladders shall be inspected frequently and those which have developed defects shall be withdrawn from service for repair or destruction and tagged or marked as “Dangerous, Do Not Use.”


Rungs should be kept free of grease and oil.


“Use.” The following safety precautions shall be observed in connection with the use of ladders:



Portable rung and cleat ladders shall, where possible, be used at such a pitch that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is one-quarter of the working length of the ladder (the length along the ladder between the foot and the top support). The ladder shall be so placed as to prevent slipping, or it shall be lashed, or held in position. Ladders shall not be used in a horizontal position as platforms, runways, or scaffolds;


Ladders for which dimensions are specified should not be used by more than one man at a time nor with ladder jacks and scaffold planks where use by more than one man is anticipated. In such cases, specially designed ladders with larger dimensions of the parts should be procured;


Portable ladders shall be so placed that the side rails have a secure footing. The top rest for portable rung and cleat ladders shall be reasonably rigid and shall have ample strength to support the applied load;


Ladders shall not be placed in front of doors opening toward the ladder unless the door is blocked upon, locked, or guarded;


Ladders shall not be placed on boxes, barrels, or other unstable bases to obtain additional height;




Ladders with broken or missing steps, rungs, or cleats, broken side rails, or other faulty equipment shall not be used; improvised repairs shall not be made;



Short ladders shall not be spliced together to provide long sections;


Ladders made by fastening cleats across a single rail shall not be used;


Ladders shall not be used as guys, braces, or skids, or for other than their intended purposes;


Tops of the ordinary types of stepladders shall not be used as steps;


On two-section extension ladders the minimum overlap for the two sections in use shall be as follows:

     Size of ladder (feet)         |  Overlap (feet)
Up to and including 36 .............|      3
Over 36 up to and including 48 .....|      4
Over 48 up to and including 60 .....|      5


Portable rung ladders with reinforced rails (see paragraphs (c)(3) (ii)(c) and (iii)(d) this section) shall be used only with the metal reinforcement on the under side;


No ladder should be used to gain access to a roof unless the top of the ladder shall extend at least 3 feet above the point of support, at eave, gutter, or roofline;





Middle and top sections of sectional or window cleaner’s ladders should not be used for bottom section unless the user equips them with safety shoes;




The user should equip all portable rung ladders with nonslip bases when there is a hazard of slipping. Nonslip bases are not intended as a substitute for care in safely placing, lashing, or holding a ladder that is being used upon oily, metal, concrete, or slippery surfaces;


The bracing on the back legs of step ladders is designed solely for increasing stability and not for climbing.

[39 FR 23502, June 27, 1974, as amended at 43 FR 49744, Oct. 24, 1978; 49 FR 5321, Feb. 10, 1984]


“Requirements” –


“General.” Specific design and construction requirements are not part of this section because of the wide variety of metals and design possibilities. However, the design shall be such as to produce a ladder without structural defects or accident hazards such as sharp edges, burrs, etc. The metal selected shall be of sufficient strength to meet the test requirements, and shall be protected against corrosion unless inherently corrosion-resistant.





The spacing of rungs or steps shall be on 12-inch centers.




Rungs and steps shall be corrugated, knurled, dimpled, coated with skid-resistant material, or otherwise treated to minimize the possibility of slipping.



“General specifications – straight and extension ladders.”


The minimum width between side rails of a straight ladder or any section of an extension ladder shall be 12 inches.


The length of single ladders or individual sections of ladders shall not exceed 30 feet. Two-section ladders shall not exceed 48 feet in length and over two-section ladders shall not exceed 60 feet in length.


Based on the nominal length of the ladder, each section of a multisection ladder shall overlap the adjacent section by at least the number of feet stated in the following:

   Normal length of ladder (feet)  | Overlap (feet)
Up to and including 36 .............|      3
Over 36, up to and including 48 ....|      4
Over 48, up to 60 ..................|      5


Extension ladders shall be equipped with positive stops which will insure the overlap specified in the table above.


“General specifications – step ladders.”




The length of a stepladder is measured by the length of the front rail. To be classified as a standard length ladder, the measured length shall be within plus or minus one-half inch of the specified length. Stepladders shall not exceed 20 feet in length.





The bottoms of the four rails are to be supplied with insulating non-slip material for the safety of the user.


A metal spreader or locking device of sufficient size and strength to securely hold the front and back sections in the open position shall be a component of each stepladder. The spreader shall have all sharp points or edges covered or removed to protect the user.


“General specifications – trestles and extension trestle ladders.”


Trestle ladders or extension sections or base sections of extension trestle ladders shall be not more than 20 feet in length.


“General specifications – platform ladders.”


The length of a platform ladder shall not exceed 20 feet. The length of a platform ladder shall be measured along the front rail from the floor to the platform.





“Care and maintenance of ladders” –


“General.” To get maximum serviceability, safety, and to eliminate unnecessary damage of equipment, good safe practices in the use and care of ladder equipment must be employed by the users.

The following rules and regulations are essential to the life of the equipment and the safety of the user.


“Care of ladders.”




Ladders must be maintained in good usable condition at all times.




If a ladder is involved in any of the following, immediate inspection is necessary:


If ladders tip over, inspect ladder for side rails dents or bends, or excessively dented rungs; check all rung-to-side-rail connections; check hardware connections; check rivets for shear.





If ladders are exposed to oil and grease, equipment should be cleaned of oil, grease, or slippery materials. This can easily be done with a solvent or steam cleaning.



Ladders having defects are to be marked and taken out of service until repaired by either maintenance department or the manufacturer.


“Use of ladders.”


A simple rule for setting up a ladder at the proper angle is to place the base a distance from the vertical wall equal to one-fourth the working length of the ladder.


Portable ladders are designed as a one-man working ladder based on a 200-pound load.


The ladder base section must be placed with a secure footing.


The top of the ladder must be placed with the two rails supported, unless equipped with a single support attachment.


When ascending or descending, the climber must face the ladder.


Ladders must not be tied or fastened together to provide longer sections. They must be equipped with the hardware fittings necessary if the manufacturer endorses extended uses.


Ladders should not be used as a brace, skid, guy or gin pole, gangway, or for other uses than that for which they were intended, unless specifically recommended for use by the manufacturer.


See 1910.333(c) for work practices to be used when work is performed on or near electric circuits.

[39 FR 23502, June 27, 1974, as amended at 43 FR 49745, Oct. 24, 1978; 49 FR 5321, Feb. 10, 1984; 55 FR 32014, Aug. 6, 1990]


“Design requirements” –


Design considerations. All ladders, appurtenances, and fastenings shall be designed to meet the following load requirements:


The minimum design live load shall be a single concentrated load of 200 pounds.


The number and position of additional concentrated live-load units of 200 pounds each as determined from anticipated usage of the ladder shall be considered in the design.


The live loads imposed by persons occupying the ladder shall be considered to be concentrated at such points as will cause the maximum stress in the structural member being considered.


The weight of the ladder and attached appurtenances together with the live load shall be considered in the design of rails and fastenings.


“Design stresses.” Design stresses for wood components of ladders shall not exceed those specified in 1910.25. All wood parts of fixed ladders shall meet the requirements of 1910.25(b).

For fixed ladders consisting of wood side rails and wood rungs or cleats, used at a pitch in the range 75 degrees to 90 degrees, and intended for use by no more than one person per section, single ladders as described in 1910.25(c)(3)(ii) are acceptable.



“Specific features” –


“Rungs and cleats.”


All rungs shall have a minimum diameter of three-fourths inch for metal ladders, except as covered in paragraph (b)(7)(i) of this section and a minimum diameter of 1 1/8 inches for wood ladders.


The distance between rungs, cleats, and steps shall not exceed 12 inches and shall be uniform throughout the length of the ladder.


The minimum clear length of rungs or cleats shall be 16 inches.


Rungs, cleats, and steps shall be free of splinters, sharp edges, burrs, or projections which may be a hazard.


The rungs of an individual-rung ladder shall be so designed that the foot cannot slide off the end. A suggested design is shown in figure D-1.

   FIGURE D-1. - Suggested design for rungs on individual-rung
(For Figure D-1, Click Here)


“Side rails.” Side rails which might be used as a climbing aid shall be of such cross sections as to afford adequate gripping surface without sharp edges, splinters, or burrs.


“Fastenings.” Fastenings shall be an integral part of fixed ladder design.



“Splices.” All splices made by whatever means shall meet design requirements as noted in paragraph (a) of this section. All splices and connections shall have smooth transition with original members and with no sharp or extensive projections.


“Electrolytic action.” Adequate means shall be employed to protect dissimilar metals from electrolytic action when such metals are joined.


“Welding.” All welding shall be in accordance with the “Code for Welding in Building Construction” (AWSD1.0-1966).


“Protection from deterioration.”


Metal ladders and appurtenances shall be painted or otherwise treated to resist corrosion and rusting when location demands. Ladders formed by individual metal rungs imbedded in concrete, which serve as access to pits and to other areas under floors, are frequently located in an atmosphere that causes corrosion and rusting. To increase rung life in such atmosphere, individual metal rungs shall have a minimum diameter of 1 inch or shall be painted or otherwise treated to resist corrosion and rusting.


Wood ladders, when used under conditions where decay may occur, shall be treated with a nonirritating preservative, and the details shall be such as to prevent or minimize the accumulation of water on wood parts.



When different types of materials are used in the construction of a ladder, the materials used shall be so treated as to have no deleterious effect one upon the other.

  FIGURE D-2. - Rail Ladder With Bar Steel Rails and Round Steel
(For Figure D-2, Click Here)


“Clearance” –


“Climbing side.” 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 (fig. D-2 of this section), with minimum clearances for intermediate pitches varying between these two limits in proportion to the slope, except as provided in subparagraphs (3) and (5) of this paragraph.


“Ladders without cages or wells.” A clear width of at least 15 inches shall be provided each way from the centerline of the ladder in the climbing space, except when cages or wells are necessary.


“Ladders with cages or baskets.” Ladders equipped with cage or basket are excepted from the provisions of subparagraphs (1) and (2) of this paragraph, but shall conform to the provisions of paragraph (d)(1)(v) of this section. Fixed ladders in smooth-walled wells are excepted from the provisions of subparagraph (1) of this paragraph, but shall conform to the provisions of paragraph (d)(1)(vi) of this section.



“Clearance in back of ladder.” The distance from the centerline of rungs, cleats, or steps to the nearest permanent object in back of the ladder shall be not less than 7 inches, except that when unavoidable obstructions are encountered, minimum clearances as shown in figure D-3 shall be provided.

                     Minimum Ladder Clearances

  FIGURE D-3. - Clearance for Unavoidable Obstruction at Rear
                       of Fixed Ladder
(For Figure D-3, Click Here)


“Clearance in back of grab bar.” The distance from the centerline of the grab bar to the nearest permanent object in back of the grab bars shall be not less than 4 inches. Grab bars shall not protrude on the climbing side beyond the rungs of the ladder which they serve.


“Step-across distance.” The step-across distance from the nearest edge of ladder to the nearest edge of equipment or structure shall be not more than 12 inches, or less than 2 1/2 inches (fig. D-4).

    FIGURE D-4. - Ladder Far from Wall
(For Figure D-4, Click Here)



“Hatch cover.” Counterweighted hatch covers shall open a minimum of 60 degrees from the horizontal. The distance from the centerline of rungs or cleats to the edge of the hatch opening on the climbing side shall be not less than 24 inches for offset wells or 30 inches for straight wells. There shall be no protruding potential hazards within 24 inches of the centerline of rungs or cleats; any such hazards within 30 inches of the centerline of the rungs or cleats shall be fitted with deflector plates placed at an angle of 60 degrees from the horizontal as indicated in figure D-5. The relationship of a fixed ladder to an acceptable counterweighted hatch cover is illustrated in figure D-6.


“Special requirements” –


“Cages or wells.”


Cages or wells (except on chimney ladders) shall be built, as shown on the applicable drawings, covered in detail in figures D-7, D-8, and D-9, or of equivalent construction.


Cages or wells (except as provided in subparagraph (5) of this paragraph) conforming to the dimensions shown in figures D-7, D-8, and D-9 shall be provided on ladders of more than 20 feet to a maximum unbroken length of 30 feet.

    FIGURE D-5. - Deflector Plates for Head Hazard
(For Figure D-5, Click Here)

    FIGURE D-6. - Relationship of Fixed Ladder to a Safe Access
(For Figure D-6, Click Here)


Cages shall extend a minimum of 42 inches above the top of landing,unless other acceptable protection is provided.


Cages shall extend down the ladder to a point not less than 7 feet nor more than 8 feet above the base of the ladder, with bottom flared not less than 4 inches, or portion of cage opposite ladder shall be carried to the base.



Cages shall not extend less than 27 nor more than 28 inches from the centerline of the rungs of the ladder. Cage shall not be less than 27 inches in width. The inside shall be clear of projections. Vertical bars shall be located at a maximum spacing of 40 degrees around the circumference of the cage; this will give a maximum spacing of approximately 9 1/2 inches, center to center.


Ladder wells shall have a clear width of at least 15 inches measured each way from the centerline of the ladder. Smooth-walled wells shall be a minimum of 27 inches from the centerline of rungs to the well wall on the climbing side of the ladder. Where other obstructions on the climbing side of the ladder exist, there shall be a minimum of 30 inches from the centerline of the rungs.

       FIGURE D-7. - Cages for Ladders More Than 20 Feet High
(For Figure D-7, Click Here)

       FIGURE D-8. - Clearance Diagram for Fixed Ladder in Well
(For Figure D-8, Click Here)

       FIGURE D-9. - Cages-Special applications.
(For Figure D-9, Click Here)


“Landing platforms.” When ladders are used to ascend to heights exceeding 20 feet (except on chimneys), landing platforms shall be provided for each 30 feet of height or fraction thereof, except that, where no cage, well, or ladder safety device is provided, landing platforms shall be provided for each 20 feet of height or fraction thereof. Each ladder section shall be offset from adjacent sections. Where installation conditions (even for a short, unbroken length) require that adjacent sections be offset, landing platforms shall be provided at each offset.


Where a man has to step a distance greater than 12 inches from the centerline of the rung of a ladder to the nearest edge of structure or equipment, a landing platform shall be provided. The minimum step-across distance shall be 2 1/2 inches.



All landing platforms shall be equipped with standard railings and toeboards, so arranged as to give safe access to the ladder. Platforms shall be not less than 24 inches in width and 30 inches in length.


One rung of any section of ladder shall be located at the level of the landing laterally served by the ladder. Where access to the landing is through the ladder, the same rung spacing as used on the ladder shall be used from the landing platform to the first rung below the landing.


“Ladder extensions.” The side rails of through or side-step ladder extensions shall extend 3 1/2 feet above parapets and landings. For through ladder extensions, the rungs shall be omitted from the extension and shall have not less than 18 nor more than 24 inches clearance between rails. For side-step or offset fixed ladder sections, at landings, the side rails and rungs shall be carried to the next regular rung beyond or above the 3 1/2 feet minimum (fig. D-10).

         FIGURE D-10. - Offset Fixed Ladder Sections
(For Figure D-10, Click Here)


“Grab bars.” Grab bars shall be spaced by a continuation of the rung spacing when they are located in the horizontal position. Vertical grab bars shall have the same spacing as the ladder side rails. Grab-bar diameters shall be the equivalent of the round-rung diameters.



“Ladder safety devices.” Ladder safety devices may be used on tower, water tank, and chimney ladders over 20 feet in unbroken length in lieu of cage protection. No landing platform is required in these cases. All ladder safety devices such as those that incorporate lifebelts, friction brakes, and sliding attachments shall meet the design requirements of the ladders which they serve.


“Pitch” –


“Preferred pitch.” The preferred pitch of fixed ladders shall be considered to come in the range of 75 degrees and 90 degrees with the horizontal (fig. D-11).

            FIGURE D-11. - Pitch of Fixed Ladders
(For Figure D-11, Click Here)


“Substandard pitch.” Fixed ladders shall be considered as substandard if they are installed within the substandard pitch range of 60 and 75 degrees with the horizontal. Substandard fixed ladders are permitted only where it is found necessary to meet conditions of installation. This substandard pitch range shall be considered as a critical range to be avoided, if possible.


“Scope of coverage in this section.” This section covers only fixed ladders within the pitch range of 60 degrees and 90 degrees with the horizontal.


“Pitch greater than 90 degrees.” Ladders having a pitch in excess of 90 degrees with the horizontal are prohibited.


“Maintenance.” All ladders shall be maintained in a safe condition. All ladders shall be inspected regularly, with the intervals between inspections being determined by use and exposure.