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 http://www.osha.gov.

December 1, 1993

Mr. Herbert B. Weller
P.O. Box 29190
Indianapolis, IN 46229-1090

Dear Mr. Weller:

This is a correction to our November 5 response to your September 20 letter requesting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to confirm or comment on your interpretation of statements made by OSHA in our previous correspondence to you concerning the misuse of extension ladders.

The second paragraph should have been worded as follows:

As stated in the February 6 letter, OSHA realizes that there is a potential for misuse of Keller Ladders as well as for any ladder used at a construction site. Also, if the misuse of a ladder results in a hazard to an employee (e.g., setting up a Keller ladder backwards or at an angle less than 75 1/2 degrees measured from the ground or floor so that the shoes do not sit flat on the ground or floor surface) a citation is warranted.

As you pointed out in your letter a Keller ladder will have to be proper set up at an angle greater than 75% from the horizontal to above the safety shoes rest flat when used on a surface sloping away from the ladder supporting structure.

If you have any further question concerning our correspondence, please contact us again.

Sincerely,

 

 

Roy F. Gurnham, P.E., Esq.
Director
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance

 

November 5, 1993

Mr. Herbert B. Weller
P.O. Box 29190
Indianapolis, IN 46229-1090

Dear Mr. Weller:

This is in response to your September 20 letter requesting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to confirm or comment on your interpretation of statements made by OSHA in our previous correspondence to you concerning the misuse of extension ladders.

As stated in the February 6 letter, OSHA realizes that there is a potential for misuse of Keller Ladders as well as for any ladder used at a construction site. Also, if the misuse of a ladder results in a hazard to an employee (e.g., setting up a Keller ladder backwards or at an angle greater than 75 1/2 degrees so that the shoes do not sit flat on the ground or floor surface) a citation is warranted.

If you have any further question concerning our correspondence, please contact us again.

Sincerely,

 

Roy F. Gurnham, P.E., Esq.
Director
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance

 

September 20, 1993

Mr. Roy F. Gurnham P.E., Esq.
Director
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance
U.S. Department of Labor OSHA
200 Constitution Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Gurnham:

I am writing you today in respect to certain questions I have for the OSHAdministration.

Placing aside the "current" issues of Keller ladders, I wish to address two pieces of correspondence I have received from the OSHAd. They are a letter to me dated Feb. 6, 1992 and Apr. 16, 1992. They are both signed by Dorothy Strunk, Acting Assistant Secretary, the OSHAd.

In the letter dated Feb. 6, it states "The variable working conditions at job sites and possible alterations or misapplication of an otherwise safe product could easily create a hazardous condition beyond the control of the manufacturer". The letter goes on to state "However, we agree with you that the potential for misuse exists. Please be advised that we are working with Keller Industries to reduce the likelihood for misuse of this product".

Drawing your attention now to the letter dated Apr. 16, it states "As you know, the Keller ladder meets both OSHA and ANSI requirements. The problem you pointed out in previous letters centers on the instructions provided by the manufacturer to the purchaser of a ladder. If the purchaser is an employer who will give the ladder to employees for use, then OSHA's concern is with the instructions the employer gives the employees concerning the ladder. Paragraph 1926.1060(a)(1) requires all such training to be given by a competent person (defined by 1926.32(f) as "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them") and such training must include the proper placement of ladders (see 1926.1060(a)(1)(iii)). It is our interpretation of these requirements that a competent person would be knowledgeable about the placement requirements of rear-fly ladders and that failure to train employees accordingly would therefore result in a citable situation".

The letter goes on to say "OSHA does not presently attempt to enforce with respect to "improper" instruction given to a purchaser by a manufacturer. We have, however, discussed our concerns with Keller Industries and they are reviewing the need to modify the wording of the instructions."

Lastly, it is stated, "With regard to issuing a hazard alert to our field offices, a copy of all relevant correspondence has been circulated to our field offices".

Taking but a moment to briefly cover what issues I had presented at that time, for the purpose of keeping the record clear, my concerns were such that:

1. I took issue with the "Keller" rear-fly ladder as I opined that it would be set up reversed on a job site.

2. I took issue with the "Keller" rear-fly because the instructions were not concise.

a. It sent a mixed signal as to which side the fly went on.

b. It did not state clearly that the ladder would work "only" at a precise angle of 75 1/2 degrees on perfectly horizontal surfaces.

3. I took issue with the "Keller" rear-fly ladder as it had a safety foot with limited movement in rotation due to a two rivet design.

In summary of the 3 items above, I felt that the Keller ladder was dangerous because it may be placed in a reverse position, it may be used on a surface that was not exactly horizontal, or it may be placed at an angle slightly less than 75 1/2 degrees, all of which causes the safety foot to not set flat to the supporting surface. That, to me was, the message I tried to convey to OSHA.

Going back now to the two mentioned letters, with the Feb. 6 stating OSHA agrees with the likelihood of misuse, and the Apr. 16 letter where OSHA mentions improper instructions, citable situations, and issuing alerts to the field offices, here is my question.

My interpretation of the two letters mentioned above would be "OSHA agrees that the potential of misuse exists with the Keller 3100 and 3200 rear-fly ladder, the misuse of a Keller 3100 or 3200 rear-fly ladder is a citable situation, a citable situation of misuse of the Keller 3100 or 3200 ladder is a hazard or danger to the employee".

Is my interpretation correct, and if not, would you please explain to me what the meaning of the letter of Apr. 16, 1992 is.

May I please have a response to this letter, as it is separate from the current issues of the Keller ladder. I understand that I will have a response within 30 days, provided my information is correct.

Respectfully:

 

Herbert B. Weller
P.O. Box 29190
Indianapolis, IN 46229-1090