OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
Bookmark this page

Part 23 Scaffolds and Temporary Work Platforms

Section 327 Vertical ladder on scaffold

Subsections 327(1) and 327(2)

Workers must safely move up and down ladders by maintaining three-point contact with the ladder at all times, and keeping their centre of gravity over the ladder rungs. Ladders are intended for workers to move up or down the scaffold – workers must not perform work from a ladder. These requirements apply to the frame of a scaffold that is designed to look like a ladder and is used as a ladder by workers.

Subsection 327(3)

A ladder attached to a scaffold and that provides access to a working level of a scaffold must meet the listed conditions. Ladders must extend at least 1 metre above the uppermost working level of the scaffold to provide workers with handholds when getting on to or off of the ladder.

The maximum unbroken length of the ladder is restricted to 9.1 metres unless a fall protection system complying with Part 9 is used (see subsection 327(5)). The 9.1 metres distance was chosen to make this maximum unbroken length consistent with the maximum unbroken length for fixed ladders described in section 130. The 9.1 metre distance is measured from the ground or between working levels.

If the ladder attached to the scaffold is more than 6.1 metres in height, it must be equipped with a ladder cage. For the purpose of the OHS Code, a ladder cage is not considered to be a type of fall protection. A ladder cage provides a structure against which workers can lean and rest, and for some workers it reduces their anxiety or sense of “exposure” by enclosing them. Should a worker in a ladder cage lose his or her footing and handgrip, the worker will most likely plummet to the base of the ladder unless their body becomes entangled in a ladder hoop. A properly functioning fall protection system will catch the worker in mid-air within the ladder cage, preventing them from falling to the base of the ladder. The ladder cage must begin within 2.4 metres of the ground or working level from which the unbroken length of ladder begins.

Subsection 327(4)

This subsection recognizes two ladder cage shapes and places limits on their dimensions. Circular ladder cages must have an inside diameter that measures no more than 760 millimetres. Square ladder cages must have inside dimensions that measure no more than 760 millimetres by 760 millimetres. These dimensions are large enough to allow workers to easily move up and down within the cage. Yet the dimensions are small enough to ensure that workers can comfortably lean back into the cage with their feet positioned on the rungs and rest without losing their balance.

Section 327(5)

As described in subsection 327(3), the maximum unbroken length of the ladder is restricted to 9.1 metres unless a fall protection system complying with Part 9 is used. The 9.1 metres distance was chosen to make this maximum unbroken length consistent with the maximum unbroken length for fixed ladders described in section 130. The 9.1 metre distance is measured from the ground or between working levels.

If a fall protection system complying with Part 9 is used, the maximum unbroken length of the ladder can exceed 9.1 metres and the ladder cage required by subsection 327(3)(f) is unnecessary.