Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

April 15, 1977

Mr. E. Robert Obus
Rosenwach Tank Co., Inc.
96 North 9th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Dear Mr. Obus:

It has been brought to our attention that our letter of February 16, 1977 on the subject of Safety Climb Systems for tower and tank ladders was insufficiently detailed.

The first statement in our previous letter was "OSHA has taken the position that climbing ladders are required on all towers and tanks as well as all other vertical surfaces that are intended to be scaled." This was in response to your letter where question 1 mentioned towers not provided with a ladder or pegs, but where cross members were-used to ascend or descend. To clarify the intent of our statement, we would like to add the following qualification.

Scaling structural members of any tower, tank, or other structure is recognized as a hazardous practice and has resulted in several deaths due to slip and fall or loss of grip in the course of climbing. Because of this situation, OSHA may cite either 1910.27 on fixed ladders where ladders or pegs fail to meet OSHA standards or OSHA may cite the general duty clause of Public Law 91-596, Section 5(a)(1) on the basis that climbing structural members is a known and recognized hazard. Further, the use of pegs precludes the use of a ladder safety device or fixed ladder cages; thereby precluding the possibility of meeting OSHA standards for fixed ladders.

We hope the preceding explanation will remove any doubts about the application of OSHA standards on towers and tanks and clarify our intended description.


Alfred Barden
Regional Administrator
Occupational Safety and Health Administration