"Application of requirements." This section is intended to prescribe rules and establish minimum
requirements for the construction, care, and use of the common types of portable wood ladders, in order to insure safety under normal conditions of
usage. Other types of special ladders, fruitpicker's ladders, combination step and extension ladders, stockroom step ladders, aisle-way step ladders,
shelf ladders, and library ladders are not specifically covered by this section.
"Requirements applicable to all wood parts."
All wood parts shall be free from sharp edges and splinters; sound and free from accepted visual
inspection from shake, wane, compression failures, decay, or other irregularities. Low density wood shall not be used.
"Portable stepladders." Stepladders longer than 20 feet shall not be supplied. Stepladders as
hereinafter specified shall be of three types:
Type I - Industrial stepladder, 3 to 20 feet for heavy duty, such
as utilities, contractors, and industrial use.
Type II - Commercial stepladder, 3 to 12 feet for medium duty, such
as painters, offices, and light industrial use.
Type III - Household stepladder, 3 to 6 feet for light duty, such as
light household use.
A uniform step spacing shall be employed which shall be not more than 12 inches. Steps shall
be parallel and level when the ladder is in position for use.
The minimum width between side rails at the top, inside to inside, shall be not less than 11
1/2 inches. From top to bottom, the side rails shall spread at least 1 inch for each foot of length of stepladder.
A metal spreader or locking device of sufficient size and strength to securely hold the front
and back sections in open positions shall be a component of each stepladder. The spreader shall have all sharp points covered or removed to protect
the user. For Type III ladder, the pail shelf and spreader may be combined in one unit (the so-called shelf-lock ladder).
"Portable rung ladders."
Single ladders longer than 30 feet shall not be supplied.
Two-section extension ladders longer than 60 feet shall not be supplied. All ladders of this
type shall consist of two sections, one to fit within the side rails of the other, and arranged in such a manner that the upper section can be raised
Assembled combinations of sectional ladders longer than lengths specified in this subdivision
shall not be used.
"Trestle and extension trestle ladder."
Trestle ladders, or extension sections or base sections of extension trestle ladders longer
than 20 feet shall not be supplied.
Painter's stepladders longer than 12 feet shall not be supplied.
"Mason's ladder." A mason's ladder is a special type of single ladder intended for use in heavy
Mason's ladders longer than 40 feet shall not be supplied.
"Trolley and side-rolling ladders" -
"Length." Trolley ladders and side-rolling ladders longer than 20 feet should not be
"Care and use of ladders" -
"Care." To insure safety and serviceability the following precautions on the care of ladders shall
Ladders shall be maintained in good condition at all times, the joint between the steps and side
rails shall be tight, all hardware and fittings securely attached, and the movable parts shall operate freely without binding or undue play.
Metal bearings of locks, wheels, pulleys, etc., shall be frequently lubricated.
Frayed or badly worn rope shall be replaced.
Safety feet and other auxiliary equipment shall be kept in good condition to insure proper
Ladders shall be inspected frequently and those which have developed defects shall be withdrawn
from service for repair or destruction and tagged or marked as "Dangerous, Do Not Use."
Rungs should be kept free of grease and oil.
"Use." The following safety precautions shall be observed in connection with the use of
Portable rung and cleat ladders shall, where possible, be used at such a pitch that the
horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is one-quarter of the working length of the ladder (the length along the ladder
between the foot and the top support). The ladder shall be so placed as to prevent slipping, or it shall be lashed, or held in position. Ladders shall
not be used in a horizontal position as platforms, runways, or scaffolds;
Ladders for which dimensions are specified should not be used by more than one man at a time nor
with ladder jacks and scaffold planks where use by more than one man is anticipated. In such cases, specially designed ladders with larger dimensions
of the parts should be procured;
Portable ladders shall be so placed that the side rails have a secure footing. The top rest for
portable rung and cleat ladders shall be reasonably rigid and shall have ample strength to support the applied load;
Ladders shall not be placed in front of doors opening toward the ladder unless the door is
blocked upon, locked, or guarded;
Ladders shall not be placed on boxes, barrels, or other unstable bases to obtain additional
Ladders with broken or missing steps, rungs, or cleats, broken side rails, or other faulty
equipment shall not be used; improvised repairs shall not be made;
Short ladders shall not be spliced together to provide long sections;
Ladders made by fastening cleats across a single rail shall not be used;
Ladders shall not be used as guys, braces, or skids, or for other than their intended
Tops of the ordinary types of stepladders shall not be used as steps;
On two-section extension ladders the minimum overlap for the two sections in use shall be as
Size of ladder (feet) | Overlap (feet)
Up to and including 36 .............| 3
Over 36 up to and including 48 .....| 4
Over 48 up to and including 60 .....| 5
Portable rung ladders with reinforced rails (see paragraphs (c)(3) (ii)(c) and (iii)(d) this
section) shall be used only with the metal reinforcement on the under side;
No ladder should be used to gain access to a roof unless the top of the ladder shall extend at
least 3 feet above the point of support, at eave, gutter, or roofline;
Middle and top sections of sectional or window cleaner's ladders should not be used for bottom
section unless the user equips them with safety shoes;
The user should equip all portable rung ladders with nonslip bases when there is a hazard of
slipping. Nonslip bases are not intended as a substitute for care in safely placing, lashing, or holding a ladder that is being used upon oily, metal,
concrete, or slippery surfaces;
The bracing on the back legs of step ladders is designed solely for increasing stability and not
[39 FR 23502, June 27, 1974, as amended at 43 FR 49744, Oct. 24, 1978; 49 FR 5321, Feb. 10, 1984]