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Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders
Group 1. General Physical Conditions and Structures Orders
Article 4. Access, Work Space, and Work Areas

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§3276. Portable Ladders.


(a) Scope. This section is intended to prescribe rules and establish minimum requirements for the design, construction, selection, care, and use of all self-supporting and non-self-supporting portable ladders, in order to insure safety under normal conditions of usage. This section does not apply to ladder type step stools or other types of step stools except for the definition of “step stool (ladder type)” in subsection (b) and the design and construction requirements of subsection (c)(5).

(b) Definitions.

Extension Ladder. An extension ladder is a non-self-supporting portable ladder adjustable in length. It consists of two or more sections traveling in guides or brackets so arranged as to permit length adjustment. Its size is designated by the sum of the lengths of the sections measured along the side rails.

Extension Trestle Ladder. An extension trestle ladder is a self-supporting portable ladder, adjustable in length, consisting of a trestle ladder base and a vertically adjustable single ladder, with suitable means for locking the ladders together. The size is designated by the length of the trestle ladder base.

Ladders. A ladder is an appliance usually consisting of two side rails joined at regular intervals by crosspieces called steps, rungs, or cleats, on which a person may step in ascending or descending.

Sectional Ladder. A sectional ladder is a non-self-supporting portable ladder, nonadjustable in length, consisting of two or more sections of ladder so constructed that the sections may be combined to function as a single ladder. Its size is designated by the overall length of the assembled sections.

Side-Rolling Ladder. A side-rolling ladder is a semifixed ladder, nonadjustable in length, supported by attachments to a guide rail, which is generally fastened to shelving, the plane of the ladder being also its plane of motion.

Single Ladder. A single ladder is a non-self-supporting portable ladder, nonadjustable in length, consisting of but one section. Its size is designated by the overall length of the side rail.

Single-Rail Ladder. A ladder with rungs, cleats, or steps mounted on a single-rail instead of the normal two rails used on most other ladders.

Special-Purpose Ladder. A special-purpose ladder is a portable ladder which represents either a modification or a combination of design or construction features in one of the general-purpose types of ladders previously defined, in order to adapt the ladder to special or specific uses.

Step Ladder. A step ladder is a self-supporting portable ladder, nonadjustable in length, having flat steps and a hinged back. Its size is designated by the overall length of the ladder measured along the front edge of the side rails.

Step stool (ladder type). A self-supporting, foldable, portable ladder, nonadjustable in length, 32 inches or less in length, with flat steps and without a pail shelf, designed so that the ladder top cap as well as all steps can be climbed on. The side rails may extend above the top-cap but such extension is not considered as part of the step stool length.

Trestle Ladder. A trestle ladder is a self-supporting portable ladder, nonadjustable in length, consisting of two sections hinged at the top to form equal angles with the base. The size is designated by the length of the side rails measured along the front edge.

Trolley Ladder. A trolley ladder is a semifixed ladder, nonadjustable in length, supported by attachments to an overhead track, the plane of the ladder being at right angles to the plane of motion.

(c) Design and Construction.

(1) Portable wood ladders placed in service after January 7, 2011 shall meet the design and construction requirements of ANSI A14.1-2007, American National Standard for Ladders - Wood Safety Requirements, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Portable wood ladders placed in service on or before January 7, 2011, shall meet the design and construction requirements of the ANSI A14.1 standard in effect at the time such ladders were placed in service.

EXCEPTION: Portable job-made cleat ladders that are designed and constructed in accordance with the requirements of Section 1676 of the Construction Safety Orders.

(2) Portable metal ladders placed in service after January 7, 2011, shall meet the design and construction requirements of ANSI A14.2-2007, American National Standard for Ladders - Portable Metal - Safety Requirements, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Portable metal ladders placed in service on or before January 7, 2011, shall meet the design and construction requirements of either the ANSI A14.2 standard or the ANSI A14.10 standard, American National Standard for Ladders - Portable Special Duty Ladders, in effect at the time such ladders were placed in service.

(3) Portable reinforced plastic ladders placed in service after January 7, 2011, shall meet the design and construction requirements of ANSI A14.5-2007, American National Standard for Ladders - Portable Reinforced Plastic - Safety Requirements, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Portable reinforced plastic ladders placed in service on or before January 7, 2011, shall meet the design and construction requirements of either the ANSI A14.5 standard or the ANSI A14.10 standard in effect at the time such ladders were placed in service.

(4) Portable special purpose ladders that are not covered by one of the ANSI A14 standards referenced in this section shall be designed and constructed in accordance with sound engineering principles and approved per Section 3206.

(5) Ladder type step stools shall be designed and constructed such that the rungs, cleats, and steps are not less than 8 inches apart, or more than 12 inches apart, as measured between center lines of the rungs, cleats, and steps.

(d) Selection.

(1) Ladders shall be selected and their use restricted to the purpose for which the ladder is designed. Single-rail ladders shall not be used.

(A) Scaffolds or other worker positioning equipment shall be used when work cannot be safely done from ladders.

(B) Portable ladders are generally designed for one-person use to meet the requirements of the person, the task, and the environment. When selecting a ladder for use, consideration shall be given to the ladder length or height required, the working load, the duty rating, worker position to the task to be performed, and the frequency of use to which the ladder will be subjected.

NOTE: Subsection (e)(16)(D) prohibits the use of ladders that exceed specified maximum lengths.

(2) Ladders shall be used according to the following duty classifications:

Duty Rating
Ladder Type
Working Load (Pounds)
Special Duty
IAA
375
Extra Heavy-Duty
IA
300
Heavy-Duty
I
250
Medium-Duty
II
225
Light-Duty
III
200

(3) Ladders used in connection with ladder jack scaffolds shall be Type I, IA, or IAA duty rated ladders and shall be installed and used in accordance with the Construction Safety Orders, Section 1648.

(4) Ladders used in connection with outdoor advertising structures shall be Type I, IA, or IAA duty rated and shall be used in accordance with Section 3413.

(e) Care, Use, Inspection and Maintenance of Ladders.

(1) Maintenance. 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 ladders shall not be exposed to acid or alkali materials that are capable of corroding the ladder and reducing the ladder's strength, unless the employer obtains and follows the recommendations of the ladder manufacturer or a qualified person regarding exposure to corrosive materials.

(2) Inspection. Ladders shall be inspected by a qualified person for visible defects frequently and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use.

(3) Damaged Ladders. Ladders that have developed defects shall be withdrawn from service for repair or destruction; and tagged or marked as “Dangerous, Do Not Use” or with similar language. Ladders with broken or missing steps, rungs, cleats, safety feet, side rails, or other defects shall not be used.

(4) Cleaning. Ladders shall be free of oil, grease, or slippery materials.

(5) Surface Coatings.

Wood ladders shall not be painted with other than a transparent material.

(6) Loading. Portable ladders shall not be overloaded when used.

(7) Footing Support. The ladder base section of surface supported ladders shall be placed on a secure and level footing. When necessary, ladder levelers shall be used to achieve equal rail support on uneven surfaces. Ladders shall not be placed on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height. Ladders shall not be used on ice, snow or slippery surfaces unless suitable means to prevent slippage have been employed.

(8) Top Support. The top of non-self-supporting ladders such as single and extension ladders shall be placed with the two rails supported equally, unless a single support attachment is provided and used.

The top rest for portable rung and cleat ladders shall be reasonably rigid and shall have ample strength to support the applied load.

(9) Angle of Inclination. Non-self-supporting ladders such as single ladders and extension 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 tied, blocked, held, or otherwise secured to prevent slipping. Ladders shall not be used in a horizontal position as platforms, runways, or scaffolds unless designed for such use.

(10) Access to Elevated Work Areas. Except when portable ladders are used to gain access to fixed ladders (such as those on utility towers, billboards, and other structures where the bottom of the fixed ladder is elevated to limit access), when two or more separate ladders are used to reach an elevated work area, the ladders shall be offset with a platform or landing between the ladders.

(11) Access to Landings. When portable ladders are used for access to an upper landing surface, the side rails shall extend not less than 36 inches above the upper landing surface to which the ladder is used to gain access; or when such an extension is not possible, then the ladder shall be secured at its top to a rigid support that will not deflect, and a grasping device, such as a grab-rail, shall be provided to assist employees in mounting and dismounting the ladder. In no case shall the extension be such that ladder deflection under a load would, by itself, cause the ladder to slip off its support.

EXCEPTION No. 1: A grasping device such as a grab-rail is not required where the employee is protected by personal fall protection system in accordance with Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders, Article 36 of the High-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders, Article 12 of the General Industry Safety Orders, or Article 1 of the Telecommunication Safety Orders. Operations or conditions not specifically covered by Article 36 of the High-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders, Article 12 of the General Industry Safety Orders, or Article 1 of the Telecommunication Safety Orders shall comply with the fall protection provisions of Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders.

EXCEPTION No. 2: The provisions of this subsection do not apply to emergency rescue and emergency rescue training operations where it is not practical to extend a portable ladder 36 inches or more above the landing surface.

(12) Fastening Together. Ladders shall not be tied or fastened together to provide longer sections unless the ladders are designed for such use and equipped with the necessary hardware fittings.

(13) Erection of Extension Ladders. Extension ladders shall always be erected so that the top section (fly section) is above and resting on the bottom section (base section) with the rung locks engaged.

(14) Ladder Placement. Ladders shall not be placed in passageways, doorways, driveways, or any location where they may be displaced by activities being conducted on any other work, unless protected by barricades or guards.

(15) Climbing and Working on Ladders.

(A) The employee shall climb or work with the body near the middle of the step or rung and shall not overreach from this position. When necessary to avoid overreaching, the employee shall descend and reposition the ladder. When it is not practical to work with the body near the middle of the step or rung, the ladder shall be secured to the top support, and the employee shall be protected by a personal fall protection system in accordance with Article 36 of the High-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders, Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders, Article 12 of the General Industry Safety Orders, or Article 1 of the Telecommunication Safety Orders. Operations or conditions not specifically covered by Article 36 of the High-Voltage Electrical Safety Orders, Article 12 of the General Industry Safety Orders, or Article 1 of the Telecommunication Safety Orders shall comply with the fall protection provisions of Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders.

(B) Employees shall be prohibited from carrying equipment or materials which prevent the safe use of ladders.

(C) When ascending or descending a ladder, the user shall face the ladder and maintain contact with the ladder at three-points at all times.

NOTE: Contact with the ladder at three points means two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot which is safely supporting the user's weight.

(D) An employee shall not be permitted to stand and work on the top 3 rungs of a single or extension ladder unless there are members of the structure that provide a firm handhold or the employee is protected by a personal fall protection system in accordance Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders, Article 36 of the High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders, Article 12 of the General Industry Safety Orders, or Article 1 of the Telecommunication Safety Orders.

(E) Employees shall not sit, kneel, step or stand on the pail shelf, topcap or the step below the topcap of a step ladder.

EXCEPTION: Employees may stand on the step below the topcap provided it is located 18 inches under the topcap.

(F) Cross-bracing on the rear section of step ladders shall not be used for climbing unless the ladders are designed and provided with steps for climbing on both front and rear sections.

(G) Ladders shall not be moved, shifted, or extended while occupied, unless the ladder is designed and recommended for this purpose by the manufacturer.

(16) Prohibited Uses.

(A) Ladders shall not be used as a brace, skid, guy or gin pole, gang-way, or for other uses than that for which they were intended, unless specifically recommended for use by the manufacturer.

(B) Planks shall not be used on the top step or topcap of step ladders.

(C) Step ladders shall not be used as single ladders or in the partially closed position.

(D) Ladders that exceed the following maximum lengths shall not be used:

Ladder Type
Maximum Length (Feet)
Step ladder...........................................................
20
Two-section extension ladder (wood)...................
60
Two-section extension ladder (metal)...................
48
Three-section extension ladder (metal)................
60
Two-section extension ladder (reinforced plastic).
72
Trestle ladder........................................................
20
Extension trestle ladder base section...................
20
Extension trestle ladder extension section...........
20
Painter's step ladder.............................................
12
Mason's ladder......................................................
40
Cleat ladder..........................................................
30
Trolley ladder or side-rolling ladder.......................
20
Single ladder.........................................................
30

(E) Two section extension ladders shall not be used when the overlap between the sections is less than the following minimum overlap:

Ladder Size (Feet)
Minimum Overlap (Inches)
Up to and including 32...............
36
Over 32, up to and including 36.
46
Over 36, up to and including 48.
58
Over 48, up to and including 60.
70

(17) Portable rung ladders with reinforced rails shall be used only with the metal reinforcement on the under side.

(18) Electrical Hazards. Non-conductive ladders shall be used in locations where the ladder or user may contact unprotected energized electrical conductors or equipment. Conductive ladders shall be legibly marked with signs reading “CAUTION - Do Not Use Around Electrical Equipment,” or equivalent wording.

NOTE: Additional requirements for working in proximity to energized electrical equipment can be found in Article 37 of the Electrical Safety Orders.

(19) The area around the top and bottom of a ladder shall be kept clear.

(f) Employee Training. Before an employee uses a ladder, the employee shall be provided training in the safe use of ladders, unless the employer can demonstrate that the employee is already trained in ladder safety as required by this subsection. Supervisors of employees who routinely use ladders shall also be provided ladder safety training, unless the employer can demonstrate that the supervisor is already trained in ladder safety as required by this subsection. The training may be provided as part of the employer's Injury and Illness Prevention Program required by Section 3203. The training shall address the following topics, unless the employer can demonstrate a topic is not applicable to the safe use of ladders in the employer's workplace.

(1) Importance of using ladders safely, including: frequency and severity of injuries related to falls from ladders.

(2) Selection, including: types of ladders, proper length, maximum working loads, and electrical hazards.

(3) Maintenance, inspection, and removal of damaged ladders from service.

(4) Erecting ladders, including: footing support, top support, securing, and angle of inclination.

(5) Climbing and working on ladders, including: user's position and points of contact with the ladder.

(6) Factors contributing to falls, including: haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, footwear, and user's physical condition.

(7) Prohibited uses, including: uses other than designed, climbing on cross bracing, maximum lengths, and minimum overlap of extension ladder sections.

Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code.

HISTORY

1. Renumbering and amendment of former section 3276 to section 3275 and new section 3276 filed 12-11-90; operative 1-10-91 (Register 91, No. 3). For prior history, see Register 85, No. 9).

2. Amendment of subsection (a)(3) and new subsection (a)(4) filed 6-1-92; operative 7-1-92 (Register 92, No. 23).

3. New subsection (b) and explanatory Note filed 6-16-98; operative 7-16-98 (Register 98, No. 25).

4. Renumbering of former section 3276 to section 3278 and renumbering and amendment of former section 3278 to new section 3276 filed 12-8-2010; operative 1-7-2011 (Register 2010, No. 50).

5. Amendment of subsection (e)(15)(E) and new Exception filed 12-29-2011; operative 1-28-2012 (Register 2011, No. 52).

6. Amendment of subsections (b) and (d)(1) filed 2-8-2012; operative 3-9-2012 (Register 2012, No. 6).

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