OSHA has separate regulations for portable wood ladders and portable metal ladders.
According to ANSI A14.1-2000, a ladder should be thoroughly inspected each time it is used. Rungs should be firm and unbroken, braces fastened securely, and ropes, pulleys and other moving parts in good working order. If an inspection reveals damage, the ladder should be repaired. If repairs are not feasible, the defective ladder should be taken out of service. To ensure that ladders are being inspected, ladder tags should be filled out and attached to the ladder. Here’s what you need to know:
Portable Wood Ladders 29 CFR 1910.25
Portable wood ladders addresses wood ladders including construction, care and usage. Wood ladders should be constructed of a high-density wood that is free of sharp edges and splinters. Visual inspection should reveal no decay, or irregularities including shake, wane and compression failures or other weaknesses. Construction requirements include ladder length restrictions and step spacing where uniform step spacing must not exceed 12".
Care and usage requirements ensure the serviceability and safety of portable wood ladders. Ladders should be maintained in good condition by keeping all joints tight; lubricating all wheels, locks and pulleys; replacing worn rope; and routine cleaning. Those that are defective must be destroyed or withdrawn from service.
Portable Metal Ladders 29 CFR 1910.26
Portable metal ladders addresses metal ladders, and is divided into general requirements, and care and maintenance. The general requirements call for ladders that are free of sharp edges and are structurally sound. Metal ladders must have rungs that are knurled, dimpled or treated to improve slip resistance.
Proper care and maintenance of portable metal ladders extends ladder life and improves user safety. If a ladder tips over, it must be inspected for damage (bends or dents, loose rivets or joints, etc.) and if defective, must be marked and taken out of service for repair. Ladders must be kept clean so they do not become slippery.
OSHA does not address fiberglass ladders. ANSI has guidelines for choosing fiberglass ladders.
Ladders must be marked with ladder size, type, maximum length, number of sections (if appropriate), highest standing level, total length of sections (if applicable), model number, manufacturer's name, manufacturer's location, and date of manufacture. Usage guidelines and other warning statements must also be placed on the ladders in specific locations depending on ladder type.
What are you doing to make your ladder inspections count?
By Andy Miller