Ladders

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Ladders are one of the most commonly used tools for working at height and are a frequent source of injury. To help minimize these injuries, it is important to choose the correct ladder for the job, set it up properly, and work safely while on the ladder.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must provide a ladder:

  • When a worker is required to enter an excavation greater than 1.22 metres deep. The ladder must be located in the immediate work area, and must extend from the bottom of the excavation to at least 0.91 metres above the excavation.
  • At a dock, wharf or pier. This ladder must be spaced at regular intervals not more than 30.5 metres apart around the perimeter and the ladder must extend at least one metre below water level.
  • When a worker is required to access floating equipment, if a gangplank or other safe means of access is not provided.

Where ladders are used, employers must:

  • Make sure that ladders meet the CSA/ANSI requirements for its intended use.Table
  • Make sure that a risk assessment has been conducted prior to a starting task.
  • Develop safe work practices and procedures on the inspection, use and maintenance of ladders.
  • Make sure that workers set up and use ladders safely and in accordance with safe work practices and procedures, as well as the OHS Regulations.
  • Provide workers training in ladder safety prior to using a ladder for work.

Fixed Ladders

A fixed ladder is a vertical ladder mounted permanently to a structure. These ladders are primarily used to access roofs, towers or other structures.

Fixed ladders must:

  • Meet the requirements of ANSI Standard A14.3-2002 Fixed Safety Requirements.
  • Have platforms, safety cages or another acceptable device to prevent workers from falling, where the potential fall distance is more than 7.32 metres.
  • Be anchored at intervals not more than 3.05 metres apart along the entire length of the ladder.
  • Have a continuous clearance between the ladder rungs and the structure that is at least 17.78 centimetres.
  • Include side rails that extend at least 1.07 metres above the landing with no rungs above the level of the landing.
  • Have platforms at least every 45.72 metres, where acceptable devices to prevent workers from falling are used.

Portable Ladders

Portable ladders are designed to be easily moved and carried. The two most common types are step ladders and extension ladders.

Portable ladders must:

  • Meet one of the following standards:
    • CSA Standard CAN3-Z11 Portable ladders;
    • ANSI Standard A14.1-1990 Safety Requirements for Portable Wooden Ladders;
    • ANSI Standard A14.2-1990 Safety Requirements for Portable Metal Ladders; or
    • Another accepted standard
  • Be marked for grade and use.
  • Be used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Be inspected before use, and ladders with loose, broken or missing rungs, split side rails, or other hazardous defects must be removed from service.
  • Be placed so the base of a single or extension ladder is the correct horizontal distance from the surface supporting it. This distance is 1/4 of the ladder's working length (e.g., for every 1.2 metres high, the base should be located 0.3 metres away from the supporting structure).
  • Be set up so the base of the ladder rests on a firm, level surface.
  • Be set up so the side rails rest on an upper surface strong enough to safely withstand the load.
  • Be long enough to extend about one metre above the upper landing, except where there is limited clearance and the ladder is adequately secured.

Job-Built and Special Purpose Ladders

Job-built wooden ladders must be built to specific requirements as outlined in the legislation.

Protective coatings on a wooden ladder, other than a small amount for identification purposes, must be transparent so that workers can inspect the ladder for defects.

A special purpose ladder, including a ship's ladder, escape ladder, individual rung ladder, or a ladder visible to an audience in a theatre as part of a scene or being used as a prop, must be engineered or constructed to a standard acceptable to the minister.

Working Near High Voltage

When ladders are used near high voltage equipment and conductors, employers must:

  • Not allow a ladder to be used near an overhead or underground conductor unless the employer has received (in writing) the voltage and minimum clearance distance from the power utility and complies with the work conditions the power utility specifies on the clearance permit.
  • Maintain a least 5.5 metres distance from an overhead or underground conductor, if a written clearance is not available from the power utility.
  • Get permission from the power utility where a qualified worker must work within the minimum distance, using an acceptable work procedure.

Requirements for written clearance and minimum distance are not required for emergency work, as long as a worker has taken an approved training course, specific to emergency responders, and reasonable precautions are taken. Precautions may include:

  • Restricting entry into the work area to workers necessary to perform the work.
  • Designating a safety watch.
  • Where mobile equipment is in motion, preventing people other than the equipment operator from coming into contact with the equipment or what it is moving.
  • Where mobile equipment is in operation, making sure that the equipment operator is using controls from:
    • The equipment seat;
    • A metal stand that is part of the frame and clear of the ground; or
    • A metallic mat that is bonded to the frame and located on the ground near the equipment.

Workers Responsibilities

Workers must:

  • Take reasonable care to protect his or her health and safety and that of workers and persons at or near the workplace.
  • Properly wear or use personal protective equipment (PPE), safeguards and safety devices provided for their protection in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and training provided by the employer.
  • Follow safe work practices and procedures, and the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Not work from the top two rungs of a single or extension ladder, or the top two steps of a step ladder, unless specifically permitted by the ladder’s manufacturer.
  • Not use a ladder as a scaffold component, or as a horizontal walkway, ramp or work platform support, except where the ladder is part of a pre-manufactured or engineered system.
  • Maintain three points of contact when using a ladder.
  • Not use a ladder near an overhead or underground conductor unless the employer has received (in writing) the voltage and minimum clearance distance from the power utility and complies with the work conditions the power utility specifies on the clearance permit. If written clearance can’t be obtained, a minimum of 5.5 meters safe distance must be maintained.
  • Use fall protection, when working at height from a ladder, unless:
    • The work is a light duty and of short duration;
    • The worker's centre of gravity (generally indicated by the belly button) is maintained between the ladder side rails; and
    • The ladder is not positioned near an edge or opening that would significantly increase the potential fall distance
  • Participate in training, hazard assessments, and drills, if provided.
  • Not use equipment or perform work tasks where the required training has not yet taken place.
  • Immediately report concerns and hazards to the supervisor or employer.

Ladder Grade, Type, Load Rating, Load Capacity and Intended Use

CSA Grade ANSI Type Load Rating Load Capacity (lbs) Intended Use
1AA IAA Heavy 375 Construction and industrial
1A IA Heavy 300 Construction and industiral
1 I Heavy 250 Construction and industrial
2 II Medium 225 Maintenance, office, and farm
3 III Light 200 Not for work use, unless used infrequently for short durations and the load capacity is never exceeded

Related topics

Excavation

As per trenching
An excavation is defined as “a cut, cavity, trench or depression in the earth's surface resulting from rock or soil removal”.

CSA

CSA is the Canadian Standards Association Group. Certain CSA standards are available for online viewing.
To access these, you must first create an account with "CSA Communities".
Go to: https://community.csagroup.org/login.jspa?referer=%252Findex.jspa
Once you are logged in, click on the text below the "OHS Standards / View Access" graphic.
Click on the jurisdiction of your choice to see the CSA Standards as referenced in that legislation.
Standards may also be purchased from CSA Group: https://store.csagroup.org/

Grade

CSA Grade ANSI Type Load Rating Load Capacity (lbs) Intended Use
1AA IAA Heavy 375 Construction and industrial
1A IA Heavy 300 Construction and industiral
1 I Heavy 250 Construction and industrial
2 II Medium 225 Maintenance, office, and farm
3 III Light 200 Not for work use, unless used infrequently for short durations and the load capacity is never exceeded

ANSI

As per scaffolds

ANSI is the American National Standards Institute.
Standards may be purchased from the ANSI store: https://webstore.ansi.org/

Personal protective equipment

Any equipment or device which protects a worker's body from injury, illness or death. PPE acts as a barrier to protect the worker from the hazard.
PPE should only be used:
  • Where other controls are not available or adequate.
  • As a short-term measure before controls are implemented.
  • During activities such as maintenance, clean up, and repair where other controls are not feasible or effective.
  • During emergency situations.

3 points of contact

In most circumstances, 3 point contact means, maintaining two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder at all times (e.g. while ascending, descending, and working from the ladder). Exceptions may include emergency work performed by fire fighters from portable ladders using accepted techniques.

Fall protection

Fall protection includes equipment, devices, procedures, and/or personal protective equipment, that either prevents a worker from falling (fall restraint), or brings the worker to a safer stop in the event they fall (fall arrest).

Working at height

Fall protection will either prevent a fall (fall restraint), or bring the worker to a safer stop after falling (fall arrest). Fall restraint methods can vary widely from guardrails and temporary flooring to travel restraint systems. Fall arrest, on the other hand, consists of either a personal fall arrest system or safety net.

Light duty and of short duration

Examples include visual inspections, reaching a small item on a shelf, and changing a light bulb.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
R.S.N.L. 1990, c. O-3

Section 6 Workers' general duty

6. A worker, while at work, shall take reasonable care to protect his or her own health and safety and that of workers and other persons at or near the workplace.

Section 7 Specific duties of workers

7. A worker

(a) shall co-operate with his or her employer and with other workers in the workplace to protect

(i) his or her own health and safety,

(ii) the health and safety of other workers engaged in the work of the employer,

(iii) the health and safety of other workers or persons not engaged in the work of the employer but present at or near the workplace;

(a.1) shall use devices and equipment provided for his or her protection in accordance with the instructions for use and training provided with respect to the devices and equipment;

(b) shall consult and co-operate with the occupational health and safety committee, the worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate at the workplace; and

(c) shall co-operate with a person exercising a duty imposed by this Act or regulations.

[S.N.L. 1999, c. 28, s. 3; 2001, c. 10, s. 26; 2004, c. 52, s. 2]

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2012
N.L.R. 5/12

Part III GENERAL DUTIES

Section 17 General duties of workers

17. (1) A worker shall make proper use of all necessary safeguards, protective clothing, safety devices, lifting devices or aids, and appliances

(a) designated and provided for his or her protection by the employer; or

(b) required under these regulations to be used or worn by a worker.

(2) A worker shall follow the safe work procedure in which he or she has been instructed.

(3) A worker shall immediately report a hazardous work condition that may come to his or her attention to the employer or supervisor.

Part XI SCAFFOLDS, STAGES AND WORK PLATFORMS

Section 148 Portable ladder standards

148. (1) Except as otherwise permitted by this Part, portable ladder design, construction and use shall meet the requirements of

(a) CSA Standard CAN3-Z11 "Portable Ladders" ;

(b) ANSI Standard A14.1-1990 "Safety Requirements for Portable Wood Ladders";

(c) ANSI Standard A14.2-1990 "Safety Requirements for Portable Metal Ladders"; or

(d) other standard acceptable to the minister.

(2) A manufactured portable ladder shall be

(a) marked for grade and use; and

(b) used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Section 149 Job built ladders

149. Where a portable wooden ladder is constructed at the job site,

(a) the side rails

(i) shall be of 38 millimetres by 89 millimetres nominal dimensions for lengths up to 5 metres, and 38 millimetres by 140 millimetres nominal dimensions for lengths from 5 metres to 7.3 metres, and

(ii) shall not be notched, dapped, tapered or spliced,

and the distance between the inner faces of the side rails shall not be less than 38 centimetres or more than 50 centimetres;

(b) cleats shall be

(i) 19 millimetres by 64 millimetres for ladder lengths up to 5 metres,

(ii) 19 millimetres by 89 millimetres for ladder lengths from 5 metres to 7.3 metres,

(iii) spaced at 30 centimetres centres, and

(iv) nailed directly onto the smaller surfaces of the side rails, using three 57 millimetres wire nails on each end of the 89 millimetre cleats, and two similar nails on each end of the 64 millimetre cleats;

(c) the spaces on the side rails between the cleats shall be filled with close fitting and well secured filler pieces that are the same thickness as the cleats; and

(d) a double cleat ladder shall have 3 rails evenly spaced, and be 107 centimetres to 127 centimetres wide and have continuous cleats which extend the full width of the ladder.

Section 150 Protective coatings

150. A protective coating applied to a wooden ladder, other than a small amount for identification purposes, shall be transparent to allow defects to be discovered by inspection.

Section 151 Inspection

151. Portable ladders shall be inspected before use, and ladders with loose, broken or missing rungs, split side rails or other hazardous defects shall be removed from service.

Section 152 Inclination and support

152. Where a portable single or extension ladder is in use

(a) the ladder shall be placed so that the horizontal distance from the base to the vertical plane of support is approximately one-quarter of the ladder length between supports; and

(b) the lower ends of the ladder side rails shall rest on a firm and level base and the upper support of the side rails shall be rested on a bearing surface strong enough to safely withstand the applied load.

Section 153 Length

153. A ladder shall be of sufficient length to project approximately one metre above the level of the upper landing to which it provides access, except where there is limited clearance and the ladder is adequately secured.

Section 154 Restrictions on use

154. (1) Except as otherwise permitted by a manufacturer, a worker shall not work from either the top 2 rungs of a portable single or extension ladder or the top 2 steps of a stepladder.

(2) A ladder shall not be used as a scaffold component or as a horizontal walkway, ramp or work platform support except where the ladder is part of a premanufactured or engineered system.

(3) A worker shall maintain 3 points of contact when using a ladder.

(4) A worker may only work from a portable ladder without fall protection where

(a) the work is a light duty task of short duration at each location;

(b) the worker's centre of gravity is maintained between the ladder side rails; and

(c) the ladder is not positioned near an edge or floor opening that would significantly increase the potential fall distance.

Section 155 Fixed ladders

155. (1) A fixed ladder shall comply with the requirements of ANSI Standard A14.3 - 2002 "American National Standard for Ladders - Fixed Safety Requirements" or other standard acceptable to the minister.

(2) All fixed ladders, where a potential fall is more than 7.32 metres in length, shall be

(a) provided with platforms at intervals not greater than 7.32 metres;

(b) provided with safety cages starting at 2.13 metres and a maximum of 2.44 metres from the base of the ladder; or

(c) provided with acceptable devices to prevent workers from falling.

(3) Fixed ladders shall be anchored at intervals of not more than 3.05 metres for the entire length of the ladder.

(4) A continuous clearance of at least 17.78 centimetres shall be provided at the back of rungs of fixed ladders.

(5) Ladder rungs shall be omitted above the landing and the side rails shall extend at least 1.07 metres above the landing.

(6) Where acceptable devices to prevent workers from falling are used, platforms shall be provided at intervals not greater than 45.72 metres where the continuous length of climb is greater than 45.72 metres and every 45.72 metres afterward.

Section 156 Special purpose ladders

156. A special purpose ladder, including a ship's ladder, escape ladder, individual rung ladder or a ladder visible to the audience in a theatre scenic unit or prop, shall be engineered or constructed to a standard acceptable to the minister.

Part XVIII EXCAVATION, UNDERGROUND WORK AND ROCK CRUSHING

Section 404 Definition

404. In this Part, "excavation" means a cut, cavity, trench or depression in the earth's surface resulting from rock or soil removal.

Section 407 Excavation or access

407. (1) Where a worker is required to enter an excavation greater than 1.22 metres deep, a ladder shall be provided in the immediate area where the worker is employed, extending from the bottom of the excavation to at least 0.91 metres above the top of the excavation.

(2) Walkways entering excavations shall be

(a) not less than 50.80 centimetres wide;

(b) equipped with guardrails when over 1.22 metres above grade; and

(c) provided with cleats when the grade is over 1/6.

(3) A runway which is used by mobile equipment shall be equipped with curbs.

Part XXIII DIVING AND OTHER MARINE OPERATIONS

Section 463 Ladders and gang planks

463. (1) A dock, wharf or pier shall be provided with ladders regularly spaced at intervals not exceeding 30.5 metres about its perimeter and which extend from the deck to at least one metre below water level.

(2) A fixed or portable ladder, gangplank or other safe means shall be provided and used where necessary to board and leave floating equipment.

(3) Portable means of access shall be secured to prevent dislodgement.

(4) A gangplank shall be provided with a guardrail in accordance with section 28, and where practicable, equipped with intermediate rails.

(5) The surface of a gangplank shall be provided with a means to prevent slipping.

Part XXVI ELECTRICAL OPERATIONS

Section 498 Minimum clearance - high voltage equipment and conductors

498. (1) A worker shall not cause or permit material to be piled, stored or handled, a scaffold to be erected or dismantled or mobile crane, boom truck or similar equipment to operate in an area where overhead or underground conductors are located that are capable of energizing the material, mobile equipment or it load unless the employer has obtained in writing the voltage and minimum clearance distance required by the power utility.

(2) Where the written clearance referred to in subsection (1) is unavailable from the power utility, a minimum 5.5 metres shall be maintained.

(3) An employer shall ensure that at least the minimum applicable distance specified in the following table is maintained between exposed, energized high voltage electrical equipment and conductors and a worker, work, tool, machine, equipment or material, except as otherwise permitted by this Part or a standard acceptable to the minister:

Table

Voltage Phase to Phase Minimum Distance
Over 750 V to 75 kV 3 metres
Over 75k V to 250 kV 4.5 metres
Over 250 kV to 550 kV 6 metres

(4) An employer shall accurately determine the voltage of energized electrical equipment or conductor and the minimum distance from it required under subsection (3).

Section 501 Emergency work

501. (1) Sections 497 to 500 do not apply to an emergency action close to energized high voltage electrical equipment or conductors that is carried out by a worker who has undergone a course of instruction approved by the minister.

(2) During an emergency action referred to in subsection (1), every reasonable precaution shall be taken to control hazards, including, where practicable,

(a) restricting entry into the area within which equipment or materials are to be moved to a worker necessarily engaged in the work;

(b) designating a safety watcher;

(c) where equipment is in motion, preventing a person other than the equipment operator from touching a part of the equipment or the material being moved by it; and

(d) requiring an equipment operator to operate the controls from

(i) the seat provided on the equipment,

(ii) a metal stand that is integral with the frame of the equipment and clear of the ground, or

(iii) a metallic mat bonded to the frame of the machine and located on the ground beside the machine.

Section 502 Authorization by owner

502. A qualified worker may work within the minimum distances to energized high voltage electrical equipment and conductors specified in subsection 498(3) provided that the worker is authorized by the owner of the power system and uses work procedures acceptable to the minister.