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Ladders are common work tools in the construction industry. There are many options available including height and style that adapt to different job requirements. Ladders allow workers quick access to heights, and have the benefit of portability and affordability. Some important safety considerations include the selection of the appropriate ladder, proper use, care and maintenance according to manufacturer specifications and pre-use inspections.  Attention must also be paid to potential overhead hazards, and any hazards to workers below.

This document contains information about general regulatory requirements for selection, construction and use of ladders.

Classifications of Ladders

Note: Requirements marked with * are also valid for owners and requirements marked with ** are also valid for owners and suppliers.

An employer or contractor must:

  • Ensure that no worker is on a ladder attached as a permanent part of an extending boom on powered mobile equipment while the boom is being extended or retracted, nor during any movement of the equipment to which the boom is supported;
    • Firefighting equipment is exempt from the above requirement;
  • Ensure outriggers are deployed if a worker is to climb a ladder attached to the extending boom on powered mobile equipment, where equipped;
  • Ensure that internal stairways or ladders are provided for scaffolds built from the ground or other surface that are 9m or more high;
  • Ensure that ladders used for a ladderjack scaffold are designed and constructed to support the anticipated load safely, used according to manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations and the ladders are not more than 3m apart;
  • Ensure that a crawl board or roof ladder is securely fastened to the roof *;
  • Ensure that every ladder is designed, constructed, used and maintained to perform its function safely **;
  •  Ensure that no stepladder or wooden ladder is painted unless it is transparent and that no ladder is made by fastening cleats across a single rail or post**;
  • Ensure a derrick is equipped with a fixed ladder or ladders providing access from the derrick floor to the crown platform and to each immediate platform rungs *;
  • Ensure a derrick floor and all stairways, ladders, ramps, catwalks and platforms are kept free of obstructions that may hinder or prevent the exit of workers rungs;
  • Ensure the following requirements for portable ladders:
    • Equipped with non-slip feet;
    • Secured against accidental movement during use;
    • Not used where there is a risk of contact with exposed energized electrical conductor in the case of metal or wire-bound portable ladders;
    • Must extend at least 1m above any platform, roof or other landing to which it is used as a means of access;
    • Workers who handle or use a portable ladder are instructed in these requirements ;
    • No single portable ladder exceeds 9m in length;
    • Where a worker uses a portable ladder, other than a stepladder:
      • The ladder must be placed against the structure so that the slope of the ladder is one horizontal to four vertical;
      • No part of the worker’s body (except for the worker’s arms) extend beyond the side rails;
      • 3-point contact on the ladder is maintained at all times;
  • Ensure the following requirements for stepladders:
    • Not more than 6m high when set for use;
    • Has legs that are securely held in position by metal braces or equivalent rigid support; and
    • When in use, has a front section slope at an angle of one horizontal to six vertical;
  • Ensure the following requirements for extension ladders:
    • Equipped with locks that securely hold the sections of the ladder in the extended position;
    • Where a section is extended, the section that is extended overlaps another section for at least 1 m;
    • If it consists of 2 sections, that it does not exceed 14.6 m in length;
    • If it consists of more than 2 sections, that it does not exceed 20 m in length;
    • No section exceeds 9m in length;
  • Ensure the following requirements for fixed ladders*:
    • Note 1: a ladder that is fixed to a structure at an angle of more than 25 to the vertical, or more than one horizontal to two vertical, is deemed to be a stairway and is subject to the requirements of sections 121 and 251.
    • Note 2: section 255 of the OHS Regulations (Fixed Ladders) does not apply to fixed ladders underground.
    • Rungs must be uniformly spaced with centres not less than 250 and not more than 300mm apart;
    • Maintain the clearance of at least 150mm between the rungs and the structure to which the ladder is attached;
    • Securely held in place at the top and bottom and at any intermediate points that are necessary to prevent sway;
    • Side rails extend at least 1m above any platform, roof or other landing on the structure to which the ladder is fixed;
    • A ladder opening in a platform, roof or other landing does not exceed 750mm x 750mm;
    • If it is more than 6m high, must be equipped with platforms as required, and a personal fall arrest system;
    • If in an excavated shaft is installed in a compartment that is separated from the hoist compartment by a substantial partition;
  • Ensure the following requirements for construction ladders:
    • When 5m or less in length, the side rails must be as prescribed;
    • When more than 5m in length, the side rails must be as prescribed;
    • Must never be more than 10m long;
    • Rungs must be :
      • Constructed by number 1 structural grade spruce lumber as prescribed;
      • Supported by filler blocks or secured by a single continuous wire;
      • Uniformly spaced with not more than 300mm between their centres;
    • The width between side rails must be at least 500mm;
    • For every two-way construction ladders, must not be less than 1.2 m wide and constructed with a centre structural rail throughout the ladder’s entire length 
    • Not constructed with plywood for the side rails or rungs;
  • Special requirements for ladder cages: * 
    • Must be constructed of hoops that are not more than 1.8m apart, joined by vertical members not more than 300mm apart around the circumference of the hoop;
    • No point on a hoop of the ladder cage is more than 750mm from the ladder;
    • Must be of sufficient strength and designed to contain any worker who may lean or fall against a hoop;
    • If constructed before July 1, 1997, the lowest hoop must not be more than 3m from a platform, landing or the ground, and the uppermost hoop must be at the level of a platform, landing or roof;
    • If constructed after July 1, 1997, the lowest hoop must not be more than 2.2m from a platform, landing or the ground, and the uppermost hoop must extend at least 1m above the level of a platform, landing or roof.

Special requirements for ladders used in Mining Operations

Note: Requirements marked with * are also valid for owners and requirements marked with ** are also valid for owners and suppliers.

Employer or contractor must:

  • Ensure the ladder meets the following requirements, if a fixed ladder is provided in an underground manway or a shaft:
    • Must be securely held in place at the top and bottom and at any intermediate points that are necessary to prevent sway in the ladder;
    • Rungs must be uniformly spaced with centres that are not less than 250mm and not more than 300mm apart;
    • A clearance of at least 150mm must be maintained between the rungs and the structure to which the ladder is affixed;
    • Side rails must extend at least 1m above any platform, roof or other landing on the structure to which the ladder is fixed, unless suitable handrails are provided;
    • Must be equipped with suitably-sized and sturdily-constructed platforms at height intervals of not more than 7m if the ladder is more than 7m high and is inclined more than 500 from the horizontal;
    • At every point a fixed ladder is offset, a suitably-sized and sturdily-constructed platform must be installed;
  • Ensure that a fixed ladder in an untimbered raise is equipped with guardrails;
  • The size of a ladder opening in a platform, roof or other landing must be sufficient to allow the passage of a worker wearing self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or a stretcher bearing an injured worker;
  • If a ladder is inclined from the horizontal at 700 or more, the ladder must be offset to cover the openings in platforms;
  • If a ladder is inclined from the horizontal at more than 500 but less than 700, the ladder may be continuous through the platforms;
  • Ensure that no ladder made of wire rope or chain is used for climbing, except during shaft-sinking operations;
  • If a wire rope ladder is used during shaft-sinking operations, ensure that no wire rope used in the ladder contains any broken, frayed or birdcaged wires *;
  • Ensure that a dredge used at a mine is equipped with a ladder on each side of the dredge that extends from the deck to the water level for rescue purposes;
  • Provide an auxiliary ladder that extends from the permanent ladder or the sinking stage to the bottom of the shaft ; and is located and attached so that is can be promptly lowered to any point at which workers are working;

A worker must:

  • Not extend any part of their body except their arms beyond the side rails of a portable ladder;
  • Maintain 3-point stance on a portable ladder at all times;
  • Not work from either of the top two rungs or steps of a portable ladder, unless the ladder is a stepladder that has a platform equipped with a suitable handrail;

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996
S.S., c. O-1.1, Reg 1

Part XI Powered Mobile Equipment

Section 166 Ladders attached to extending boom

166. (1) An employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) subject to subsection (2), no worker is on a ladder that is attached as a permanent part of an extending boom on powered mobile equipment during any movement of the equipment, including extension or retraction of the boom;

(b) where outriggers are incorporated into powered mobile equipment, no worker climbs a ladder attached to an extending boom unless the outriggers are deployed; and

(c) no worker operates any powered mobile equipment equipped with an extending boom unless the powered mobile equipment is stable under all operating conditions.

(2) Clause (1)(a) does not apply to firefighting equipment.

Part XII Scaffolds, Aerial Devices, Elevating Work Platforms and Temporary Supporting Structures

Section 172 General requirements

172. (1) An employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) every light-duty scaffold is designed and constructed to support:

(i) a minimum working load of 3.63 kN per lineal metre of platform width applied vertically and uniformly across an independent platform section along an imaginary line drawn perpendicular to the platform edge anywhere along the length of the section; and

(ii) a minimum uniformly distributed working load of 1.20 kN/m2, acting simultaneously with the concentrated load specified in subclause (i); and

(b) every heavy-duty scaffold is designed and constructed to support:

(i) a minimum working load of 3.88 kN per lineal metre of platform width applied vertically and uniformly across an independent platform section along an imaginary line drawn perpendicular to the platform edge anywhere along the length of the section; and

(ii) a minimum uniformly distributed working load of 3.60 kN/m2, acting simultaneously with the concentrated load specified in subclause (i).

(2) An employer or contractor shall ensure that every scaffold is:

(a) designed, constructed, erected, used and maintained so as to perform safely any task that the scaffold is required to perform;

(b) designed, constructed and erected to support or resist:

(i) in the case of a wooden scaffold, at least four times the load that may be imposed on the scaffold;

(ii) in the case of a metal scaffold, at least 2.2 times the load that may be imposed on the scaffold;

(iii) in the case of any components suspending any part of a scaffold supporting workers, at least 10 times the load that may be imposed on those components; and

(iv) four times the maximum load or force to which the scaffold is likely to be subjected without overturning;

(c) erected, maintained and dismantled by a competent worker.

(3) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a freestanding scaffold is restrained from overturning by guying or other suitable means.

(4) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a scaffold that is built from the ground or other surface:

(a) is supported by a foundation that is of sufficient area, stability and strength to ensure the stability of the scaffold;

(b) is set level on a stable sill that is at least 38 x 240 millimetres and continuous under at least two consecutive supports;

(c) where an upright could penetrate the sill, a base plate is installed in the upright;

(d) is supported against lateral movement by adequate, secure bracing;

(e) is anchored:

(i) vertically at not less than four-metre intervals and horizontally at not less than six-metre intervals;

(ii) where designed by a professional engineer, at intervals recommended by a professional engineer; or

(iii) where commercially manufactured, at intervals recommended by the manufacturer;

(f) is provided with internal stairways or ladders if the scaffold is nine metres or more in height; and

(g) is checked to ensure that the scaffold is plumb and level after each tier is added.

(5) Where a scaffold is partially or fully enclosed, an employer or contractor shall ensure that all scaffold components and tie-ins are adequate to support the added load that may be placed on the scaffold as a result of wind or other adverse weather conditions.

(6) An employer or contractor shall ensure that all workers who are required to work on a scaffold are provided with the following information:

(a) the maximum working load of the scaffold;

(b) any other information, restriction or condition that is necessary to ensure the safe use of the scaffold.

(7) Where a scaffold is more than six metres high, an employer or contractor shall install a gin wheel and hoist arm or other suitable lifting device to hoist materials from the ground.

[Sask. Reg. 6/97, s. 8]

Section 180 Ladderjack scaffolds

180. An employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) brackets and ladders used for a ladderjack scaffold are:

(i) designed and constructed to support the anticipated load safely; and

(ii) used according to the manufacturer's specifications and recommendations; and

(b) ladders used for a ladderjack scaffold are not more than three metres apart.

Section 190 Crawlboards, roof ladders

190. An employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that a crawl board or roof ladder used for roof work is securely fastened to the roof.

Part XVI Entrances, Exits and Ladders

Section 252 Ladders

252. (1) An employer, contractor or supplier shall ensure that every ladder is designed, constructed, used and maintained to perform its function safely.

(2) An employer, contractor or supplier shall ensure that:

(a) no wooden ladder or stepladder is painted with any substance other than a transparent coating; and

(b) no ladder is made by fastening cleats across a single rail or post.

Section 253 Portable ladders

253. (1) In this section and section 254, "portable ladder" means any ladder that is not fixed in place, and includes a stepladder.

(2) An employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) a portable ladder is equipped with non-slip feet;

(b) a portable ladder is secured against accidental movement during use;

(c) a metal or wire-bound portable ladder is not used where the ladder or a worker handling or using the ladder may come into contact with an exposed energized electrical conductor; and

(d) a portable ladder extends at least one metre above any platform, roof or other landing to which the ladder is used as a means of access.

(3) An employer or contractor shall ensure that each worker who handles or uses a portable ladder is instructed in the requirements of this section.

(4) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a stepladder:

(a) is not more than six metres high when set for use;

(b) has legs that are securely held in position by means of metal braces or an equivalent rigid support; and

(c) when in use, has a front section slope at an angle of one horizontal to six vertical.

(5) An employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) an extension ladder is equipped with locks that securely hold the sections of the ladder in the extended position;

(b) where a section of an extension ladder is extended, the section that is extended overlaps another section for at least one metre;

(c) an extension ladder consisting of two sections does not exceed 14.6 metres in length; and

(d) an extension ladder consisting of more than two sections does not exceed 20 metres in length.

(6) An employer or contractor shall ensure that no single portable ladder and no section of an extension ladder exceeds nine metres in length.

Section 254 Use of portable ladders

254. (1) Where a worker uses a portable ladder other than a stepladder, an employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) the ladder is placed against the structure so that the slope of the ladder is one horizontal to four vertical;

(b) the worker does not extend any part of the worker's body except for the worker's arms beyond the side rails of the ladder; and

(c) the worker maintains a three-point stance on the ladder at all times.

(2) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a worker does not work from either of the top two rungs or steps of a portable ladder, unless the ladder is a stepladder that has a platform equipped with a suitable handrail.

Section 255 Fixed ladders

255. (1) In this section, "fixed ladder" means a ladder that is fixed to a structure in a vertical position or at an angle that is between vertical and 25 to the vertical, but does not include a ladder used in underground mining operations to which The Mines Regulations apply.

(2) A ladder that is fixed to a structure at an angle of more than 25 to the vertical, or more than one horizontal to two vertical, is deemed to be a stairway and is subject to the requirements of sections 121 and 251.

(3) An employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that:

(a) the rungs on a fixed ladder are uniformly spaced with centres that are not less than 250 and not more than 300 millimetres apart;

(b) a clearance of at least 150 millimetres is maintained between the rungs on a fixed ladder and the structure to which the ladder is affixed;

(c) a fixed ladder is securely held in place at the top and bottom and at any intermediate points that are necessary to prevent sway;

(d) the side rails of a fixed ladder extend not less than one metre above any platform, roof or other landing on the structure to which the ladder is fixed;

(e) a ladder opening in a platform, roof or other landing does not exceed 750 millimetres by 750 millimetres;

(f) a fixed ladder that is more than six metres high:

(i) is equipped with:

(A) platforms at intervals of not more than six metres or ladder cages, in the case of ladders installed on or before March 11, 1986; or

(B) platforms at intervals of not more than six metres and ladder cages, in the case of ladders installed on or after March 12, 1986; or

(ii) is equipped with a personal fall arrest system that meets the requirements of Part VII.

(g) a fixed ladder in an excavated shaft is installed in a compartment that is separated from the hoist compartment by a substantial partition.

(4) Where a ladder cage is required by these regulations, an employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that:

(a) the ladder cage is constructed of hoops that are not more than 1.8 metres apart, joined by vertical members not more than 300 millimetres apart around the circumference of the hoop;

(b) no point on a hoop of the ladder cage is more than 750 millimetres from the ladder; and

(c) the ladder cage is of sufficient strength and is designed to contain any worker who may lean or fall against a hoop.

(5) In the case of a ladder cage constructed before July 1, 1997, an employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that:

(a) the lowest hoop of the ladder cage is not more than three metres from a platform, landing or the ground; and

(b) the uppermost hoop of the ladder cage is at the level of a platform, landing or roof.

(6) In the case of a ladder cage constructed on or after July 1, 1997, an employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that:

(a) the lowest hoop of the ladder cage is not more than 2.2 metres from a platform, landing or the ground; and

(b) the uppermost hoop of the ladder cage extends at least one metre above the level of a platform, landing or roof.

[Sask. Reg. 67/2007, s. 23]

Section 256 Construction ladders

256. (1) In this section, "construction ladder" means a ladder constructed at a worksite.

(2) An employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) the side rails of a construction ladder that is five metres or less in length are constructed of number 1 structural grade spruce lumber that measures not less than 38 by 89 millimetres or of material of equivalent strength and rigidity;

(b) the side rails of a construction ladder that is over five metres in length are constructed of number 1 structural grade spruce lumber that measures not less than 38 by 140 millimetres or of material of equivalent strength and rigidity;

(c) no construction ladder is more than 10 metres long;

(d) the rungs of a construction ladder are:

(i) constructed of number 1 structural grade spruce lumber that measures not less than 21 by 89 millimetres or of material of equivalent strength and rigidity;

(ii) supported by filler blocks or secured by a single continuous wire; and

(iii) uniformly spaced with not more than 300 millimetres between their centres;

(e) the width between the side rails of a construction ladder is at least 500 millimetres;

(f) every two-way construction ladder that permits traffic in both directions at the same time is not less than 1.2 metres wide and is constructed with a centre structural rail throughout the ladder's entire length; and

(g) no plywood is used for the side rails or rungs of a construction ladder.

Part IV Committees and Representatives

Section 39 Designation of committee members

39. (1) An employer or contractor who is required to establish a committee shall:

(a) in designating the members:

(i) select persons to represent the employer or contractor on the committee; and

(ii) ensure that there is a sufficient number of members representing workers on the committee to equitably represent groups of workers who have substantially different occupational health and safety concerns; and

(b) designate members for a term not exceeding three years.

(2) Members of a committee hold office until a successor is designated, and may be re-designated for a second or subsequent term.

Part XXIX Oil and Gas

Section 421 Platforms, ladders and stairways

421. (1) An employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that:

(a) a derrick is equipped with a fixed ladder or ladders providing access from the derrick floor to the crown platform and to each intermediate platform; and

(b) platforms are provided:

(i) on a drilling rig, at the fourble board, stabbing board and crown; and

(ii) on a service rig, at the tubing board and rod basket.

(2) An employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that a derrick floor and all stairways, ladders, ramps, catwalks and platforms are kept free of obstructions that may hinder or prevent the exit of workers.

Mines Regulations, 2003
R.R.S., c. O-1, r. 2

Part VI Design of Mines

Section 38 Fixed ladders underground

38. (1) Section 255 of the OHS regulations does not apply to fixed ladders underground.

(2) If a fixed ladder is provided in an underground manway or a shaft, the employer or contractor must ensure that the ladder meets the requirements of this section.

(3) A fixed ladder must be securely held in place at the top and bottom and at any intermediate points that are necessary to prevent sway in the ladder.

(4) The rungs of a fixed ladder must be uniformly spaced with centres that are not less than 250 millimetres and not more than 300 millimetres apart.

(5) A clearance of at least 150 millimetres must be maintained between the rungs on a fixed ladder and the structure to which the ladder is affixed.

(6) The side rails of a fixed ladder must extend at least one metre above any platform, roof or other landing on the structure to which the ladder is fixed, unless suitable handrails are provided.

(7) A fixed ladder must be equipped with suitably sized and sturdily constructed platforms at height intervals of not more than seven metres if the ladder:

(a) is more than seven metres high; and

(b) is inclined more than 50o from the horizontal.

(8) A suitably sized and sturdily constructed platform must be installed at every point at which a fixed ladder is offset.

(9) The size of a ladder opening in a platform, roof or other landing must be sufficient to allow the passage of a worker wearing self-contained breathing apparatus or a stretcher bearing an injured worker.

(10) If a ladder is inclined from the horizontal at 70o or more, the ladder must be offset to cover the openings in platforms.

(11) If a ladder is inclined from the horizontal at more than 50o but less than 70o, the ladder may be continuous through the platforms.

(12) An employer, contractor or owner must ensure that a fixed ladder in an untimbered raise is equipped with guardrails.

Section 39 Wire rope or chain ladders

39. (1) In this section, "birdcaged wire" means wire rope that contains a bulge due to the wire rope strands opening or unravelling.

(2) Except during shaft-sinking operations, an employer or contractor must ensure that no ladder made of wire rope or chain is used for climbing purposes.

(3) If a wire rope ladder is used during shaft-sinking operations, the employer, contractor or owner must ensure that no wire rope used in the ladder contains any broken, frayed or birdcaged wires.

Part VII Work Practices and Procedures

Section 73 Dredges

73. (1) An employer or contractor must ensure that a dredge used at a mine is equipped with:

(a) adequate and suitable fire-fighting equipment;

(b) adequate guard rails to prevent any worker from falling into the water;

(c) a suitable gangplank for exit to a permanent walkway;

(d) a ladder on each side of the dredge that extends from the deck to the water level for rescue purposes;

(e) an adequate means of exit from the engine room and control cabin; and

(f) an effective means of communicating with workers on the dredge.

(2) If a worker is required or permitted to be on a dredge that is not connected to the shore by a walkway, the employer or contractor must ensure that at least two suitable boats, one based at the dredge and the other based at the shore, are available for immediate use.

(3) An employer or contractor must ensure that no flammable materials, other than lubricant and fuel necessary for 24 hours of operation, are stored on a dredge.

(4) The employer or contractor must ensure that every dredge put into service on or after the coming into force of these regulations is equipped with lightning protection system that conforms to the requirements of Canadian Standards Association standard CAN/CSA-B72-M87 (Reaffirmed 1998), Installation Code for Lightning Protection Systems.

(5) The employer or contractor must ensure that a dredge put into service before the coming into force of these regulations and not equipped in accordance with subsection (4) is not used during an electrical storm.

Part VIII Shaft-Sinking Operations

Section 85 Means of escape

85. (1) Subject to subsection (2), during a shaft-sinking operation, an employer or contractor must ensure that a suitable manway is constructed and maintained in the shaft from the collar to the sinking stage.

(2) An employer or contractor may install an independently-powered escape conveyance in a shaft in place of a manway, but the conveyance must be fully operational before the shaft exceeds a depth of 30 metres.

(3) The employer or contractor must provide an auxiliary ladder that:

(a) extends from the permanent ladder or the sinking stage to the bottom of the shaft; and

(b) is located and attached so that it can be promptly lowered to any point at which workers are working.