• Standard Number:

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

February 3, 1977

Mr. Beryl M. May
Manager - Safety
American Telephone and Telegraph Company
295 North Maple Avenue
Basking Ridge, New Jersey 07920

Dear Mr. May:

This is in response to your letter dated August 4, 1976, addressed to Donald A. Shay, regarding metal manhole ladder standards in 29 CFR 1910.268(h)(8) and confirms a telephone conversation with a member of my staff. You state that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agreed in previous meetings and correspondence that the metal ladders you use and leave in the manhole are not portable and ask that we clarify OSHA Program Directive #100-46 so that metal manhole ladders of the type you describe are excluded from the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.268(h)(8).

As you know, the Program Directive states that 29 CFR 1910.268(h)(8)(i) through (vi) applies to "portable" metal manhole ladders used in the telecommunication industry. Therefore, if your ladders are "portable" they must comply with that standard's requirements.

Based on your discussions with a member of my staff, and further review, we have concluded that some of the ladders described in your letter are portable metal ladders. As such, standards 29 CFR 1910.268(h)(8)(i) through (vi) are applicable.

Although the phrase "portable ladder" is not defined in the OSHA standards, it is clear that in promulgating OSHA standards the Secretary distinguished between portable and fixed ladders, see 29 CFR 1910.26 and 1910.27. 29 CFR 1910.21(e)(2) defines a fixed ladder as a ladder permanently attached to a structure, building, or equipment. It follows therefore that a portable ladder is one that is not fixed, i.e., one that is not permanently attached.

The information you furnished indicates some of your metal manhole single ladders are not permanently attached to anything, are moved around in the manhole, and are kept in the manhole. OSHA's position is that under these conditions the ladders would be portable metal ladders.

(For additional text, see printed copy)