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Under One Roof

Canadian Roofing Reference Manual

1.7.1 Ladders

There are several types of ladders which every worker should be familiar with:

  • Step ladder
  • Single ladder (or plain-rung ladder)
  • Extension ladder
  • Articulated ladder
  • Combination ladder
  • Job made ladder

Step Ladder

Step ladders are available in a wide range of sizes, styles and materials. These types of ladders are self-supporting, which means they can stand without leaning against another structure and must be placed on firm, level surface.

A step ladder is hinged at the top and can be folded flat for easy transport. When in use, the step ladder must have its legs fully spread and the “spreaders” at each side must be locked to prevent the legs from opening or closing.

When working on a step ladder, one must never stand on the top two steps. Also, the fold- down tool shelf near the top of the ladder must not be used as a step.

Single Ladder

A single ladder or plain rung ladder is a non-self-supporting ladder that is non-adjustable and consists of one section.

Extension Ladder

An extension ladder is similar to the single ladder (or plain rung ladder) except that it is made in two or three sections joined together in such a manner that one section can slide over the other. When extended to the desired length, the upper section is supported by brackets which rest on the rungs of the lower section.

Articulated Ladder

An articulated ladder is a ladder with one or more locking hinges that allows the ladder to be set up in several different configurations including single or extension.

Combination Ladder

A combination ladder is a ladder that can be used as a step, single or extension ladder.

Job made ladder

A job-made ladder is customized to fit specific job situations and are temporary. The primary purpose is to provide proper access to a work area. A job made ladder must follow local OH&S construction guidelines Ladder Setup and Use

Any single or extension ladder must be equipped with a non-slip type of base, or must be held, tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping.

The base of an inclined portable ladder should be approximately 1/4 the height of the ladder from the base of the wall. The height is measured from the ground to the point at which the ladder contacts the wall or building.

Regardless of the type of ladder being used, there are precautions which must be observed:

  • Check the ladder for defects at the start of the work and after it has been used in other locations by other workers.
  • Inspect the ladder for structural rigidity. All joints between fixed parts should be tight and secure. Hardware and fittings should be securely attached and free of damage, excessive wear and corrosion. Movable parts should operate freely without binding or excessive play.
  • Frayed or worn ropes on extension ladders should be replaced with a size and type equal to the manufacturer’s original rope.
  • Aluminum ladders should be checked for dents and bends in side rails, steps and rungs. Repairs should be made only by the manufacturer or someone skilled in aluminum or metal work.
  • Ladders found to be defective should be taken out of service and tagged.DANGER DO NOT USE.
  • The top of the ladder should be tied off or otherwise secured.
  • If a ladder is used for access from one work level to another, the side rails should extend a minimum of 900 mm (3 ft) above the landing.
  • Grab rails should be installed at the upper landing so that a worker getting on and off the ladder has secure handholds.
  • All straight extension ladders should be erected at an angle such that the horizontal distance between the top support and the base is not less than 1/4 or greater than 1/3 the vertical distance between these points.
  • Short ladders must never be spliced together to make a long ladder.
  • Unless suitable barricades have been erected, ladders should not be set up in passageways, doorways, driveways or other locations where they can be struck by persons or vehicles.
  • Only one person at a time should be allowed on a single-width ladder.
  • Ladders should not be placed against flexible or movable surfaces.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing up or down and when working from it.
  • Never climb up or down a ladder while carrying anything in your hands. Tools, equipment and materials should be placed in a container and raised or lowered by rope.
  • Persons using or working from ladders should wear protective footwear with soles and heels made of slip-resistant material such as nitrile rubber.
  • Never rest a ladder on its rungs. Ladders must rest on their side rails.
  • The side rails of the ladder must extend 900 mm (3 ft) above the roof edge.
  • When erecting long, awkward or heavy ladders, two or more workers should share the task to avoid injury.
  • Watch for overhead power lines before attempting to erect any ladder. Aluminum ladders must not be used near overhead power lines.
  • Never set-up ladder when it is extended.
  • Do not over extend the ladder sections of an extension ladder. Maintain minimum overlap of sections consistent with the manufacturer’s written instructions. Extension ladders must be overlapped a minimum of three rungs or more depending on manufacturer instructions. Refer to local OH&S Guidelines.
  • Be sure the ladder hardware is fully engaged and locked prior to climbing.
  • Do not use metal ladders or wire reinforced wooden ladders near energized electrical equipment.
  • Only transparent coating or preservatives shall be applied to wooden ladders. This will allow you to see any cracks or defects.
  • Heavy or bulky objects shall not be carried by workers ascending or descending ladders. This is especially true of hot bitumen.
  • Every ladder must be tied at the top and placed on firm footing at the bottom.