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OSHA 1910.23 Ladder Safety

Written By Michael Draper

One of the most dangerous tools that we have on our truck is a ladder. In fact, this tool has seriously injured more people in our industry than any other tool. Yet, its often a tool we don’t take the time to train employees or even ourselves on.

OSHA’s General Industry Standard 1910 has addressed many of safety concerns that both Employers and Employees alike need to address. They are specifically mentioned in 1910.23 of the standard.

This article will deal specifically with 1910.23 of the OSHA General Industry Standard

Although there are other area of concerns this article will focus on three areas- Ladder Top, Ladder Base, and Person on the Ladder.


Ladder Top

If the ladder could possibly become unstable due to environment, hazards or otherwise we should consider the top of the ladder as an area to stabilize. A couple pics are shown as to how this can be done. Ladder Locks prevent the ladder from sliding on say a gutter and keep the ladder top secured. Ladder Stabilizers are also common and help to spread the weight distribution over a wider surface area and thus stabilizing the ladder top.

Ladder Base

The Ladder Base is another area of concern when considering ladder stabilization. Wet, slippery surfaces are a concern as well as uneven surfaces. One common method of dealing with an uneven surface such as sloped landscaping or stairways even is the use of Leg Levelers.

Person on the Ladder

Even with the above-mentioned items in place the risk the person himself has can’t be minimized. Slippery rungs from debris transferred from footwear is common. A person needs to ensure that the rungs are free of mud and other debris that could cause a slip hazard.

Three Points of Contact

While these words are directly applied to a fixed ladder they certainly apply to the standard as whole due to the fact that we ourselves could be what causes the ladder to become unstable by overreaching the center of gravity causing either the ladder or ourselves to possibly fall. In addition, 1910.23 does mention that we have to use at least one hand to climb with. This hazard can be avoided by either keeping ourselves inside the area of the ladder while performing work or by using and extra hand ladder hook as pictured here.


The fall hazards that are associated with ladders are very real and it is the responsibility of the employer to recognize these hazards as well as have a plan to minimize or eliminate the hazard posed on each individual job site.

AWC Magazine is committed to Window Cleaner Safety and for this reason we have compiled a video series called Safety for the Dummy. They are meant to be somewhat comical but also impress upon the viewers the real need to be safe in the field. These videos are free of charge and can be found on our YouTube Channel. Please feel free to use them for training purposes.

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