OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 8 Entrances, Walkways, Stairways and Ladders

Section 135 Manufactured portable ladder

Section 135(a)

CSA Standard CAN3-Z11-M81 (R2001), Portable Ladders, 5pecifies design and performance requirements and tests for common types of portable ladders. CSA defines a portable ladder as one that can be readily moved or carried and usually consists of side rails joined at intervals by steps, rungs, cleats or rear braces.

The Standard classifies portable ladders into one of three grades based on how the ladder is used. The grades are shown in Table 8.2.

Table 8.2 CSA grades of portable ladders

Grade

Projected Use

Load Rating

1 Construction and industrial Heavy
2 Tradesman and farm Medium
3 Household Light

A ladder approved to the Standard bears markings indicating the grade, projected use, load rating of the ladder, and numerous safety precautions in both words and symbols. If certified by CSA, the ladder bears the CSA monogram. Section 135 does not require manufactured portable ladders to be certified.

The following types of portable ladders are covered by the Standard:

  • Combination ladder – a portable ladder capable of being used either as a stepladder or a single or extension ladder. It may also be capable of being used as a trestle ladder or a stairwell ladder. Its components may be used as single ladders.
  • Extension ladder – a non-self-supporting portable ladder consisting of two or more sections travelling in interlocking rails, guides, or brackets so arranged as to permit length adjustment (see Figure 8.6). The maximum length of an extension ladder is the sum of the lengths of the side rail of each section. The maximum length of the extension ladder depends on its grade as follows:

    • Grade 1: 18 metres (60 feet) with 2 sections; 22 metres (72 feet) with 3 sections
    • Grade 2: 15 metres (48 feet) with 2 sections; 18 metres (60 feet) with 3 sections
    • Grade 3 9.5 metres (32 feet) with 2 sections

    Because ladder sections must overlap by at least 1.5 metres (5 feet), the overall maximum extended length of the longest extension ladder is 19 metres (63 feet). Inclined at the recommended 75° angle (“4 up – 1 out”), with 1 metre of the ladder extending above the upper landing area and assuming the worker to be 2 metres tall, the worker’s maximum height above ground would be approximately 15.5 metres (51 feet).

    Figure 8.6 Example of extension ladder

  • Extension trestle ladder – a self-supporting portable ladder, adjustable in length, consisting of a trestle ladder base and a vertically adjustable extension section, with a suitable means for locking the ladders together (see Figure 8.7). Trestle ladders are used in pairs to support planks or staging. The rungs are not intended to be used as steps. The extension section and base section of a trestle ladder cannot be more than 6 metres (20 feet) long.

    Figure 8.7 Extension trestle ladder

  • Sectional ladder – a non-self-supporting portable ladder, non-adjustable in length, consisting of two or more sections, so constructed that the sections may be combined to function as a single ladder.
  • Single ladder – a non-self-supporting portable ladder, non-adjustable in length, consisting of one section only (see Figure 8.8). Single ladders may be either step- or rung-type. The maximum length of a single ladder depends on its grade as follows:

    • Grade 1: 9 metres (30 feet)
    • Grade 2: 7.5 metres (24 feet)
    • Grade 3: 5 metres (16 feet)

    Figure 8.8 Example of a single ladder

  • Special-purpose ladder – a ladder that represents either a modification or a combination of design or construction features of a general-purpose ladder, in order to adapt to special or specific uses.
  • Stepladder – a self-supporting portable ladder, non-adjustable in length, having flat steps and hinged back (see Figure 8.9). The back section consists of either a single ladder or some other supporting device. The maximum length of a stepladder depends on its grade as follows:

    • Grade 1: 6 metres (20 feet)
    • Grade 2: 3.6 metres (12 feet)
    • Grade 3: 2 metres (6.5 feet)

    Figure 8.9 Standard stepladder (left) and two-way stepladder (right)

  • Step stool – a self-supporting, fixed or foldable, portable ladder non-adjustable in length, 800 millimetres (32 inches) or less in overall size with flat steps and without a pail shelf. The ladder top cap is designed to be climbed on as well as all steps. The side rails may continue above the top cap.
  • Trestle ladder – a self-supporting portable ladder, non-adjustable in length, consisting of two sections, hinged at the top to form equal angles with the base. Trestle ladders are used in pairs to support planks or staging. The rungs are not intended to be used as steps. A trestle ladder cannot be more than 6 metres (20 feet) long.

Sections 135(b) through 135(d)

ANSI Standard A14.1-2007, American National Standard for Ladders – Wood – Safety Requirements, establishes minimum requirements for the construction, testing, labelling, care, and use of common types of portable wood ladders. ANSI Standard A14.2-2007, American National Standard for Ladders – Portable Metal – Safety Requirements, does the same for portable metal ladders and ANSI Standard A14.5-2007, American National Standard for Ladders – Portable Reinforced Plastic – Safety Requirements, does the same for portable ladders made of reinforced plastic. The Standards classify portable ladders into one of four types based on how a ladder is used. The types are shown in Table 8.3. Table 8.4 summarizes the maximum lengths of selected ladders as permitted by the standards.

Portable ladders meeting the requirements of the standards are labelled with their type or duty rating and a statement that they comply with ANSI Standard A14.1, ANSI Standard A14.2 or ANSI Standard A14.5. Section 135 does not require manufactured portable ladders to be certified.

Table 8.3 Portable wood ladder types according to ANSI Standards

Ladder Type

Projected Use

Duty Rating
[working load]

Type IAA Special duty work involving heavy workers in combination with heavy tools, equipment or loads. Special duty
[170 kilograms (375 pounds)]
Type IA Frequent extra heavy-duty applications such as industry, utilities, contractors, etc. Extra heavy-duty
[136 kilograms (300 pounds)]
Type I Industry, utilities, contractors, etc. Heavy duty
[114 kilograms (250 pounds)]
Type II Offices, light maintenance, etc. Must not be used with ladder jacks or scaffold planks. Medium duty
[102 kilograms (225 pounds)]
Type III Light household use. Must not be used with ladder jacks or scaffold planks. Light duty
[91 kilograms (200 pounds)]

Table 8.4 Maximum ladder lengths permitted by ANSI ladder standards

Ladder

Type

Maximum length

Wood

Metal

Reinforced plastic

Stepladder IA, I 6 metres (20 feet) 6 metres (20 feet) 6 metres (20 feet)
II 3.6 metres (12 feet) 3.6 metres (12 feet) 3.6 metres (12 feet)
III 1.8 metres (6 feet) 1.8 metres (6 feet) 1.8 metres (6 feet)
Single IA, I 9 metres (30 feet) 9 metres (30 feet) 9 metres (30 feet)
II 6 metres (20 feet) 7.3 metres (24 feet) 7.3 metres (24 feet)
III 4.2 metres (14 feet) 4.9 metres (16 feet) 4.9 metres (16 feet)
Extension IA, I 18 metres (60 feet) 21.8 metres (72 feet) 21.8 metres (72 feet)
II 12 metres (40 feet) 18 metres (60 feet) 18 metres (60 feet)
III 8.5 metres (28 feet) 9.7 metres (32 feet) 9.7 metres (32 feet)

Ladders

Ladder safety precautions

The ladder is an extremely useful, simple device that is not always used correctly. Climbing a ladder is usually easy, but descending can sometimes be quite hazardous. The types of injuries sustained from falling or slipping from a ladder can be quite horrendous. A fall from even a short distance can result in a person suffering severe injuries leading to disability or death.

In general, most ladder falls involve portable ladders that move, tilt, or shift while a worker is climbing or descending. Unstable or slippery base surfaces are the primary reasons ladders fail. Other reasons include a misstep or a slip of the foot, loss of balance, an overreach, and the ladder being struck by a vehicle or other object.

Too many ladders are not suitable for the job or are used incorrectly. During work site inspections, the most commonly observed problems with ladders are:

  • base of ladder placed too close or too far away from the structure
  • ladder not secured at the top
  • ladder not extending 1 m above the upper landing surface
  • missing or broken rungs
  • missing or broken stays on stepladders
  • working from a stepladder on the top tread
  • ladder positioned incorrectly on a slope
  • inadequate ladder repairs

Workers and employers can reduce ladder falls by doing the following:

(a) frequently inspect and maintain ladders;
(b) use the right ladder for the job. Ladders come in a variety of types and many special-purpose ladders are available. Examples include trolley, side-rolling, shaft, and manhole ladders. A worker and employer are likely to save time, energy, and reduce the risk of injury by using the right ladder for the job;
(c) set up ladders correctly; and
(d) climb and descend ladders properly

Employers are responsible for training workers so that they understand these safe work practices. Employers are also responsible for making sure that the safe work practices are followed.

Maintenance

All ladders should be checked regularly to make sure they are fit for use and to identify any defects. Any repairs should be done immediately or the ladder removed from service until the repairs are made. If the ladder cannot be repaired, it should be discarded and replaced.

Is a ladder the best choice?

Before using any ladder, the following questions should be asked:

Is using a ladder the safest and best way to do the job? Yes No
Is the ladder in good condition and suitable for the type and height of work? Yes No
Can the ladder be positioned close enough to the work area so that the worker using it won’t overreach? Yes No
Can the ladder be secured at both the top and bottom? Yes No
Is the surface supporting the ladder at its base firm and level? Yes No

If the answer to any of these questions is No, consider another method of gaining access to the work area.