Fixed Ladders

Metal Platform Ladders

These ladders are permanently affixed to a structure, often used for routine access to equipment or rooftops.

Industrial fixed ladders are permanently attached to a structure, building, or equipment, providing safe and efficient vertical access.

What are the primary uses?

  1. Access to Elevated Levels: The primary function of fixed ladders in an industrial setting is to provide access to elevated levels such as rooftops, lofts, or upper floors where conventional stair access is impractical or consumes too much space.
  2. Maintenance and Inspection: Fixed ladders are often used for access to machinery or equipment that needs regular or occasional maintenance or inspection. Examples include HVAC systems, silos, cranes, or other types of machinery.
  3. Access to Storage Areas: They can be used to access elevated storage areas, particularly in warehouses where space is at a premium.
  4. Roof Access: Fixed ladders are commonly used to access roofs for maintenance or inspection tasks, or to service rooftop machinery or equipment.
  5. Access to Utility Lines: They are often used in utility and telecommunications industries to access overhead lines or towers.
  6. Emergency Exits: In some industrial settings, fixed ladders might form part of an emergency exit route, providing a quick escape route from elevated platforms or work areas.
  7. Access to Docks and Platforms: Fixed ladders can also be used to access loading docks, platforms, or other elevated work areas in an industrial setting.

As with all types of industrial access, fixed ladders must comply with safety regulations and standards, such as those defined by OSHA. This includes specifications for the design and construction of the ladder, use of safety devices like cages or fall arrest systems for ladders of certain heights, and regular inspection and maintenance.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets out strict guidelines for the design, installation, and use of fixed ladders in industrial settings to ensure the safety of employees. Here are some key points that define an OSHA-compliant fixed ladder:


  1. Ladder Safety Devices: All fixed ladders taller than 24 feet are required to have a ladder safety device, a self-retracting lifeline, or a cage or well from a height exceeding 24 feet up to a maximum unbroken length of 150 feet.
  2. Ladder Design: The design of fixed ladders should include side rails that extend at least 42 inches above the top of the access level or landing platform served by the ladder. The minimum width between side rails of the fixed ladder must be 16 inches.
  3. Rungs and Cleats: Rungs, cleats, and steps of fixed metal ladders manufactured after March 15, 1991, must be corrugated, knurled, dimpled, coated with skid-resistant material, or otherwise treated to minimize slipping.
  4. Spacing: Rungs, cleats, and steps of fixed ladders must be spaced not less than 10 inches and not more than 14 inches apart, as measured between the center lines of the rungs, cleats, and steps.
  5. Landing Platforms: If the ladder is more than 24 feet high, a rest platform must be provided at maximum intervals of 150 feet. The landing platform must be at least the width of the ladder and a minimum of 30 inches in depth.
  6. Cages or Wells: Cages or wells must be provided on ladders of more than 20 feet to a maximum unbroken length of 30 feet.
  7. Inspection: Fixed ladders must be regularly inspected and maintained in a safe condition. The frequency of inspections should be determined by use and exposure conditions.
  8. Clearance: There must be at least 7 inches of clearance between the ladder and any obstruction behind it. The minimum clear width on the climbing side of the ladder should be 15 inches.

These are just a few of the key requirements that OSHA specifies for fixed ladders. It’s essential that these guidelines be followed to ensure worker safety. For the complete set of regulations, refer to the OSHA guidelines directly.

Fixed ladders in residential settings are not common and typically only used for accessing roof areas or other elevated locations where typical stairs are not practical. Both the International Building Code (IBC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) do not specifically provide guidelines for residential fixed ladders, as these types of ladders are typically found in commercial, industrial, or maritime settings. However, fixed ladders should still be designed with safety in mind, taking into account factors such as:


  1. Materials and Construction: The ladder should be made from durable and robust materials, such as galvanized steel or aluminum, capable of withstanding the elements and heavy usage.
  2. Safety Features: The design should incorporate safety features like non-slip rungs, a cage or fall arrest system if the ladder is over a certain height (commonly 24 feet in commercial settings), and secure mounting to the building structure.
  3. Climbing Angle: The angle of a fixed ladder is typically near vertical (90 degrees) to minimize its protrusion from the wall.
  4. Rung Spacing: For fixed ladders, rung spacing is typically between 10 to 14 inches.
  5. Accessibility: While fixed ladders are not generally designed for accessibility (in the sense of wheelchair access), the design should still consider the needs of those who will use the ladder, with appropriate safety measures in place.

Remember that local building codes can vary, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a local building authority or a professional when designing or installing a residential fixed ladder. Accessibility needs vary greatly among individuals, so it’s crucial to take into account who will be using the ladder and what safety features may be necessary.

Commercial fixed ladders that comply with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and IBC (International Building Code) standards must meet certain criteria to ensure user safety and accessibility. While OSHA regulations are most often applied to workplace environments, IBC standards are used in the design and construction of buildings. Here are the key features of OSHA and IBC compliant fixed ladders:


  1. Height and Landing Platforms: For fixed ladders extending more than 24 feet above a lower level, OSHA requires a ladder safety or personal fall arrest system. Landing platforms should be provided at maximum intervals of 150 feet. Each landing platform should be at least as wide as the ladder and a minimum of 30 inches in length.
  2. Rungs, Cleats, and Steps: Ladder rungs, cleats, and steps must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when the ladder is in position for use. The rungs should be at least 10 inches, but not more than 14 inches apart.
  3. Ladder Width: The minimum clear width of rungs or cleats must be 16 inches.
  4. Side Rails: Side rails of through or side-step fixed ladders must extend 42 inches above the top level or landing platform.
  5. Ladder Extensions: For through ladder extensions, the steps or rungs must end at a uniform distance and such extensions of the ladder side rails must be flared to provide a level walking surface.
  6. Material and Strength: Materials used for fixed ladders should be durable, resistant to the environment in which they are used, and able to support the load they are designed to carry. For example, metal ladders should be painted or otherwise treated to resist corrosion.
  7. Installation: Fixed ladders must be installed at a pitch no greater than 90 degrees from the horizontal, measured from the back side of the ladder.

Remember, these are general requirements, and the exact standards can vary depending on the specific use of the ladder, the nature of the work being performed, and local building codes. Always consult OSHA and IBC standards or a safety professional to ensure full compliance.

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