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.

March 7, 1995

The Honorable Conrad Burns
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Burns:

Thank you for your letter of January 10, to Mr. Tadd Linsenmayer, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, regarding your inquiry about safety concerns at Montana ski areas and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for fixed ladders.

We have reviewed your letter which describes conditions where 12 inch wide supporting poles on ski lifts are provided with ladders with 16 inch wide rungs, and the possibility that persons riding the ski lifts could get ski poles or ski tips caught in the ladders on the supporting poles. As you know, OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(iii) requires a minimum clear length of 16 inches for rungs on fixed ladders for employee safety.

On January 30, a member of my staff conferred with Susan Kirby Brooke of your staff to obtain a better understanding of the conditions which exist at the ski areas. Although the safety concerns described in your letter create potential hazards for persons riding the ski lifts, these conditions appear to be public safety hazards at the ski areas rather than an employee workplace safety issue.

Nonetheless, please be advised that abatement of these potential hazardous conditions could be achieved by the installation of barrier guards on the ladders, such as sheet metal or plywood, which would prevent persons riding the ski lifts from getting caught in the open ladder areas on the supporting poles.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We believe this letter will assist you in the resolution of your safety concerns with regard to fixed ladders on the supporting poles at Montana ski areas.


Joseph A. Dear Assistant Secretary