Reaching, Ladders and Lifts

Reaching, Ladders and Lifts

Attempting to carry or reach an object relies heavily on one specific portion of the human body - the BRAIN!

Prior to reaching for or carrying an object, one should:

  1. Assess the task - determine where? how? how far? is it within your capabilities?
  2. Determine if any mechanical aids are required - ladders? genie lift? dollie? another person? backhoe?
  3. Proceed with the task - using any needed mechanical aids.

Following are additional documents designed to be helpful in assessing lifting, reaching and carrying tasks.

  • Ladders, Scaffolding and Genie Lifts

Portable Wooden Ladders: 29 CFR 1910.23

Must have:

  • No sharp edges
  • No splinters
  • No decay, shake or irregularities
  • Steps:  Uniform spacing no more than 12” apart
  • Single section < 30 feet.
  • Two section < 60 feet.
  • Section Ladders:
  • Trestle and extension: each section < 20 feet
  • Painters stepladders < 12 feet
  • Masons ladder < 40 feet

Come in 3 types:

-Type I:  Industrial - Heavy Duty – up to 250 lbs. (I-A up to 300 lbs.)

-Type II:  Commercial - Medium Duty  - up to 225 lbs.

-Type III:  Household Stepladder (3 - 6 feet) - not for use on this campus

Maintenance of Wooden Ladders


  • Be in good condition - Tight steps and side rails connections, movable parts operate freely
  • Have frequent lubrication of metal bearings
  • Have ropes replaced when worn or frayed
  • Have functional safety feet
  • Have rungs that are free of grease and oil
  • No repairs can be made to broken or missing steps, rungs, cleats, side rails

Inspections must occur each shift prior to use and all those ladders which do not meet these conditions must be labeled “Dangerous, Do Not Use” or similar use language – these ladders must be rendered non-usable.  See inspection form

Electrical Work: 29 CFR 1910.333

If a ladder is used where it COULD be exposed to electricity, it MUST have NON-CONDUCTIVE side rails (wood or fiberglass). No metal ladders near electricity – including changing light bulbs!

Portable Metal Ladders 29 CFR 1910.27


  • Not have burrs or sharp edges
  • Have steps: 12” on center
  • Have steps that are corrugated or skid-resistant
  • If a stepladder that is < 20 feet, the bottom 4 rails must be coated with insulating non-slip material

Maintenance of Metal or Fiberglass Ladders:

Must be:

  • In good working condition
  • Inspected immediately following a tip over, or when exposed to oil or grease (must be cleaned).  (see inspection form)

Ladders with any safety problems must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or destroyed.

General Use Rules for all Ladders and Scaffolding:

  • Don’t place in front of doors
  • Only one person may be on a ladder at a time unless the ladder is specifically designed to have two persons
  • Don’t place on top of boxes, books, etc.
  • Always face the ladder
  • Do not use top two steps of a stepladder or top four rungs of an extension ladder (must extend 3 feet above roof top).
  • Cannot use sections of sectional ladders as single ladders
  • Slipping hazards require use of nonslip bases (extension ladders must be lashed!!!!) Base must have secure footing.
  • Extension ladders: Rule #1: 4 (up) to 1(out) Rule
  • No horizontal use of ladders (do not make them into scaffolding)
  • Set up on level surface, whenever possible. Use leg levelers, if not.
  • Scaffolding: 20 CFR 1910.28

    Never ride on a rolling tower.

  • Do not use ladders, boxes, lashed poles, planks or climb on cross braces to extend height or reach.
  • Double-rail guarding is required for scaffolding 10 feet or higher (if scaffolding < 45” wide, required at 4 feet high)
  • Full decking of all work levels is required. If planking is used (never on a rolling tower), it must be of planking grade and secured.
  • Inspect scaffolding annually and prior to each use for slippery surfaces, bends, dents or cracks, or other safety hazard.
  • Use of Genie Lift: Prior to operating Genie Lift, you must :

  • Read and understand the manufacturers’ instructions and safety rules
  • Inspect the entire machine for possible damage.
  • Test all machine functions for proper operation.
  • Review situation to determine how best to set up lift to accomplish the job.

The Genie Lift Dos and Don’ts

  • Do read all manufacturers instructions.
  • Do ask your supervisor if you have any questions.