Climbing Side of a Fixed Ladder Must Be Clear of Obstructions

If you’re using a fixed ladder, there must be adequate clearance around it. No matter its placement, a minimum distance must exist between it and any obstructions.

Ladders are widely utilized across many industries and applications. If a hazardous situation cannot be eliminated, at least its risks must be managed through proper ladder safety regulations.

Clearance on the Climbing Side

Fixes ladders over 24 feet must meet certain additional criteria in addition to meeting general standards for all ladders; specifically, they need an official fall arrest system and rest platforms every 150 feet or less.

Ladder rungs, steps, and cleats must be spaced 10-14 inches apart along their entire length to be safe for climbing. Grab bars can protrude no more than 7 inches on either climbing side; additionally, the distance from the center line of rungs/steps to the nearest object on the climbing side must not exceed 12 inches (Fig D-3).

Clear distance requirements don’t apply in cases when ladders are installed inside structures such as tanks or elevator shafts, though cages should still be considered necessary. When obstructions cannot be avoided, clearance may be reduced to 24 inches with the use of deflector plates to guide climbers around them.

Clearance in the Back of the Ladder

Ladders can be seen everywhere, from construction sites to window washing companies and chimney sweeping companies, among others. To ensure the safety of employees who utilize ladders in the workplace, proper training, periodic equipment checkups, and ensuring OSHA standards for ladder use must be adhered to.

If the ladder is attached to a surface from which users ascend it, a minimum clearance distance should exist between its rungs and any obstruction behind the ladder at least seven inches. Rungs should also be designed to minimize slipperiness; this may involve corrugated, knurled, or dimpled patterns on them or coating them with skid-resistant material to keep them from slipping underfoot.

If a fixed ladder extends past its top access level or landing platform, its side rails should flare out and provide between 24-30 inches of clearance; through-fixed ladder extensions without side rails must be equipped with a ladder safety system and have an acceptable counterweighted hatch cover installed.

Clearance in the Back of the Grab Bars

Ladders mounted in wells such as manholes or elevator shafts do not need to meet this standard; however, those that do must maintain at least 30 inches of clear space between their back edge and any permanent objects or permanent fixtures nearby and any grab bars located behind it – or else any obstructions.

Self-closing safety gates provide another effective and cost-efficient solution to protecting climbers from falling hazards. Requiring no human interaction to operate, this inexpensive barrier meets OSHA regulations without endangering employees’ lives.

Workers who regularly utilize fixed ladders must abide by OSHA requirements to prevent workplace injuries while increasing efficiency and lowering costs through advanced safety technology incorporated into access systems. Contact GSM Industrial today to discover how your facility could take advantage of meeting OSHA standards!

Clearance in the Back of the Cage

On ladders with cages, their cage mustn’t be too close to the structure they are mounted to; otherwise, a worker could lean back and lose balance. Furthermore, their width must not exceed 27 inches without any projections.

Additionally, cages should not be located against ladders with steps and cleats and must be at least 42 inches above the top access level or platform. Grab bars may not extend past ladder rungs and must have uniform sizes.

Ladders are one of the primary causes of workplace injuries, so it is imperative to remain mindful of safety standards when using ladders. If you need any assistance understanding or complying with new regulations regarding ladder use, feel free to reach out. At GSM Industrial, we take great pride in staying abreast of constantly evolving safety rules to provide our customers with tailored solutions for all their metal fabrication needs.


Keeping the climbing side of a fixed ladder free from obstructions is crucial for safety. This practice ensures unimpeded access, reducing the risk of accidents or injuries while ascending or descending. By maintaining a clear path, individuals using fixed ladders can navigate them safely, minimizing the chances of tripping or getting entangled with obstacles. Prioritizing the regular inspection and clearance of the climbing side of fixed ladders contributes significantly to a safer working environment and promotes adherence to safety protocols.

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