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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 25, 2006

Michael J. Frenzel, CSP
Associated Safety Consultants, Inc.
9613 Interline Ave., Ste. D
Baton Rouge, LA 70809

Re: Whether 29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(18) and §1926.1053(a)(19) apply to an attachable ladder used on scaffolding.

Dear Mr. Frenzel:

This is in response to your e-mail correspondence dated January 20, 2006, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You asked for clarification on the applicability of §1926.1053(a)(18) and §1926.1053(a)(19) to attachable ladders used on scaffolding. We apologize for the delay in responding.

We have paraphrased your question as follows:

Question: Do the requirements in 29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(18) and §1926.1053(a)(19) apply to attachable ladders used for access on a scaffold?

Answer: Sections 1926.1053(a)(18) and 1926.1053(a)(19), which are part of 29 CFR Subpart X — Stairways and Ladders, state:

(18) Fixed ladders shall be provided with cages, wells, ladder safety devices, or self-retracting lifelines where the length of climb is less than 24 feet (7.3 m) but the top of the ladder is at a distance greater than 24 feet (7.3 m) above lower levels.
(19) Where the total length of a climb equals or exceeds 24 feet (7.3 m), fixed ladders shall be equipped with one of the following:
(i) Ladder safety devices; or
(ii) Self-retracting lifelines, and rest platforms at intervals not to exceed 150 feet (45.7 m); or
(iii) A cage or well, and multiple ladder sections, each ladder section not to exceed 50 feet (15.2 m) in length. Ladder sections shall be offset from adjacent sections, and landing platforms shall be provided at maximum intervals of 50 feet (15.2 m).

However, the provisions applicable to attachable ladders used on scaffolds are in 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart L — Scaffolds. Specifically, §1926.451(e)(2) provides that attachable ladders for scaffolds must meet the criteria spelled out in §1926.451(e)(2)(i)-1926.451(e)(2)(vi). It states:

(2) Portable, hook-on, and attachable ladders (Additional requirements for the proper construction and use of portable ladders are contained in Subpart X of this part — Stairways and Ladders):
(i) Portable, hook-on, and attachable ladders shall be positioned so as not to tip the scaffold;
(ii) Hook-on and attachable ladders shall be positioned so that their bottom rung is not more than 24 inches (61 cm) above the scaffold supporting level;
(iii) When hook-on and attachable ladders are used on a supported scaffold more than 35 feet (10.7 m) high, they shall have rest platforms at 35-foot (10.7 m) maximum vertical intervals.
(iv) Hook-on and attachable ladders shall be specifically designed for use with the type of scaffold used;
(v) Hook-on and attachable ladders shall have a minimum rung length of 11 1/2 inches (29 cm); and
(vi) Hook-on and attachable ladders shall have uniformly spaced rungs with a maximum spacing between rungs of 16 3/4 inches. [Emphasis added.]

As you can see from the emphasized language in the provision quoted above, unlike portable ladders, §1926.451(e)(2) does not provide that attachable ladders for scaffolds must meet the requirements listed under Subpart X. 1 Therefore, the Subpart X provisions you ask about, §1926.1053(a)(18) and §1926.1053(a)(19), do not apply to attachable scaffold ladders. Note, however, that there are requirements for attachable ladders for scaffolds in §1926.451(e).

If you need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Compliance Assistance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction



1 In Subpart X, §1926.1050(a) states:



This subpart applies to all stairways and ladders used in construction . . . . Additional requirements for ladders used on or with scaffolds are contained in subpart L — Scaffolds.

However, this provision must be read in conjunction with §1926.451(e)(2), which identifies only portable ladders as being subject to additional requirements in Subpart X. In light of the fact that Subpart L, issued as a final rule in 1996 (Volume 61 of the Federal Register, pp. 46026-46131), was promulgated more recently than Subpart X, which was issued as a final rule in 1990 (Volume 55 of the 47660-47691), we conclude that the Subpart X language in §1926.1050(a) must be construed as meaning that, for scaffold ladders, the Subpart X requirements are supplemental to those contained in Subpart L unless otherwise indicated in Subpart L. Since Subpart L did not identify attachable ladders (unlike portable ladders) as being subject to Subpart X requirements, Subpart L indicates that the Agency did not intend the Subpart X requirements to apply to attachable scaffold ladders. [ back to text ]