The employer must ensure that each ladder used meets the requirements of OSHA 1910.25 Subpart D. This information covers all ladders, except when the ladder is:
- Used in emergency operations such as firefighting, rescue, and tactical law enforcement operations, or training for these operations; or
- Designed into or is an integral part of machines or equipment.
The employer must ensure that:
- when the ladder is placed in position for use, ladder rungs, steps, and cleats should be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced;
- wooden ladders are not coated with any material which may obscure structural defects;
- metal ladders are made with corrosion-resistant material or protected against corrosion;
- ladder surfaces are free of puncture and laceration hazards;
- ladders are used only for the purposes for which they were designed;
- ladders are inspected before initial use in each work shift, and more frequently as necessary, to identify any visible defects which could cause employee injury;
- any ladder with structural or other defects is immediately tagged “Dangerous: Do Not Use” or with similar language and removed from service until repaired, or replaced;
- each employee faces the ladder when climbing up or down it;
- each employee uses at least one hand to grasp the ladder when climbing up and down it; and
- no employee carries any object or load which could cause the employee to lose balance and fall while climbing up or down the ladder.
There is a significant risk of falling if portable ladders are not safely positioned each time they are used. Unsecured ladders can slip or shift due to the weight load or lack of friction between the ladder and contact points. It is very easy to lose your balance while getting on or off an unsteady ladder. Be sure to evaluate the situation; do not use a ladder on slippery surfaces unless it is secured or has slip-resistant feet.
Before using a ladder, a competent person must inspect the ladder for visible defects, such as broken or missing rungs. If a defective ladder is found, it must be immediately marked with a defective sign or clearly labeled with a “Do Not Use” sign. It should then be taken from service until it is completely repaired.