Skip to Main Content

This information is provided free of charge by the Department of Industrial Relations from its web site at These regulations are for the convenience of the user and no representation or warranty is made that the information is current or accurate. See full disclaimer at
Subchapter 4. Construction Safety Orders
Article 25. Ladders
Return to index
New query

§1676. Job-Made Ladders.

(a) Job-made ladders shall be constructed for intended use. If a ladder is to provide the only means of access or exit from a working area for 25 or more employees, or simultaneous two-way traffic is expected, a double cleat ladder shall be installed.

NOTE: Cleats for job-made ladders are defined as crosspieces used by a person in ascending or descending a ladder. Cleats are also known as steps or rungs.

(b) Side rails, when of wood, shall be the equivalent of dressed Douglas fir "selected lumber", free from sharp edges and splinters, and shall not have knots, except for an occasional one less than 1/2-inch in diameter that appears only on the wide face and is at least 1/2-inch back from either edge.

If splicing of side rails is necessary to attain the required length, the splice shall develop the full strength of a continuous side rail of the same length.

(c) Cleats of wood shall be clear, straight-grained and absolutely free from knots of any size that appear in the narrow face. Knots appearing in the wide faces of cleats shall not exceed a diameter of 1/4-inch. Cleats shall be uniformly spaced within 1/4-inch tolerance, and not farther apart than 12 inches measured from the tops of cleats. The clear space in the plane of the cleats between the top of any cleat and an obstruction above shall be at least 4 1/2 inches.

EXCEPTION: The cleat of ladders used only by hod carriers and plaster tenders shall be uniformly spaced within 1/4-inch tolerance at not more than 9 inches measured from the tops of cleats.

(d) Double cleat ladders shall not exceed 24 feet in length.

(e) Single cleat ladders shall not exceed 30 feet in length between supports (base and top landing). If ladders are to connect different landings, or if the length required exceeds this maximum length, two or more separate ladders shall be used, offset with a platform between each ladder. Guardrails and toeboards shall be erected on the exposed sides of the platforms.

(f) The width of single cleat ladders shall be at least 15 inches, but not more than 20 inches, between rails at the top.

(g) Side rails shall be parallel or flared top to bottom by not more than one-quarter of an inch for each 2 feet of length.

(h) 2-inch by 4-inch lumber shall be used for side rails of single cleat ladders up to 16 feet long: 3-inch by 6-inch lumber shall be used for single cleat ladders from 16 to 30 feet in length.

(i) 2-inch by 4-inch lumber shall be used for side and middle rails of double cleat ladders up to 12 feet in length: 2-inch by 6-inch lumber for double cleat ladders from 12 to 24 feet in length.

(j) Cleats shall be inset into the edges of the side rails one-half inch, or filler blocks shall be used on the rails between the cleats. The cleats shall be secured to each rail with three 10d common wire nails or other fasteners of equivalent strength. Cleats shall be uniformly spaced, 12 inches top-to-top. Double-head nails shall not be used for ladder construction.

(k) Every portable ladder shall be of such material, size, and construction that it will safely carry the load to be placed thereon. Ladders which are customarily used for special purposes, such as those used for access to and additional support for overhead platforms, ladder brackets, and ladder scaffolding, shall be of such design, material, and construction that they will support all normal loads which may be imposed upon them.

NOTE: It is recognized that the stresses in ladders are of a somewhat indeterminate nature and are difficult of analysis, but when the Division has determined that ladders may not safely carry the loads placed thereon, the Division may require that they be tested according to the following:The material, size, and construction of every portable ladder to be such that when placed at an angle obtained by moving the foot of the ladder out of the perpendicular a distance equal to 1/4 its length, it will support a vertical load of at least 200 pounds applied at the center of the middle step without imposing stresses in excess of the allowable working stresses of the material used in the ladder. The material, size, and construction of every fixed ladder to be such that it will support a vertical load of at least 200 pounds applied at the center of any step without imposing stresses in excess of the allowable safe working stresses of the materials used in the ladder.

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


1. Amendment of subsection (b) filed 11-14-75; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 75, No. 46).

2. Amendment of subsection (c) filed 3-19-79; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 79, No. 12).

3. Amendment filed 1-14-86; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 86, No. 3).

4. Editorial correction of subsection (k) printing error (Register 86, No. 44).

5. Amendment of subsections (a)-(c) and repealer of subsection (l) filed 1-3-2000; operative 2-2-2000 (Register 2000, No. 1

Go BackGo Back to Article 25 Table of Contents