Ask OSHA: Stairways & Ladders Standard

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: February 21st, 2012
Topics: Ladders | Platforms |

Question: Do automatically retractable rest platforms used with self-retracting lifelines meet OSHA standards?


Answer: Yes.

Explanation: Section 1926.1053(a)(19) says that when workers climb higher than 24 feet, there must be fixed ladders, i.e., ladders that can’t be readily moved because they’re part of a building or structure. The fixed ladder must be equipped with one of three types of devices. One of the options is to use self-retracting lifelines and rest platforms at intervals no greater than 150 ft. The other 2 options are:

  1. Ladder safety devices; and
  1. A cage or well, and multiple ladder sections with each section no longer than 50 ft. Ladder sections must be offset from adjacent sections and landing platforms must be at maximum intervals of 50 feet.

The standard doesn’t say if the rest platform must be fixed or retractable. So, either option is OK. Bottom Line: A retractable rest platform and self-retracting lifelines meets OSHA standards as long as the platform intervals aren’t over 150 ft. and the deployment/retraction mechanism is working.

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OSHA Interpretation Letter, Dec. 6, 2004.