Roof Access Ladders

Roof Access Metal Stairs

These are fixed ladders used to access roof hatches.

Roof access ladders, also known as ship stairs or hatch ladders, are specifically designed to provide safe and convenient access to roof areas in industrial settings.

What are the primary uses:

  1. Roof Access: The main use of a roof access ladder is to provide safe access to roof areas of industrial buildings for regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
  2. HVAC Servicing: Many industrial buildings have HVAC units installed on the roofs. Roof access ladders provide HVAC technicians with safe and easy access to these units for servicing and maintenance.
  3. Installation and Maintenance of Roof-mounted Equipment: Besides HVAC units, other equipment like antennas, satellite dishes, solar panels, or industrial chimneys may be installed on the roof. Maintenance workers use roof access ladders to safely access these installations.
  4. Safety and Emergency Exit: In some cases, roof access ladders can serve as an emergency exit route. This can be particularly useful in situations where the primary exits are blocked or unsafe to use.
  5. Cleaning and Upkeep: Regular cleaning and upkeep of the roof area, including clearing of debris, snow, or rainwater, may require workers to access the roof, for which roof access ladders are used.
  6. Construction and Installation: During the construction or renovation of industrial buildings, roof access ladders can be used to safely transport materials and personnel to and from the roof area.

Remember, safety guidelines and best practices should be strictly followed when using roof access ladders, including maintaining three points of contact, regular inspections, and using personal protective equipment where required.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets out guidelines for the design, construction, and use of roof access ladders in industrial environments. Here are some key criteria for an OSHA-compliant industrial roof hatch ladder:


  1. Ladder Design and Construction: The ladder should be designed to carry the maximum intended load. It should be well constructed, rigid, and maintained in a safe condition. The material of construction should be sturdy and durable such as steel, aluminium, or reinforced fibreglass.
  2. Hatch Size and Cover: The size of the roof hatch should be adequate to allow for safe passage. The cover of the roof hatch should be counterbalanced to ensure it can be easily opened, and it should close securely to prevent accidental falls.
  3. Ladder Height and Clearance: The ladder must extend at least 3 feet above the roof hatch, or suitable handrails should be provided. There should be adequate clearance behind the ladder rungs, typically a minimum of 7 inches.
  4. Cage or Guardrail: If the roof access ladder is more than 20 feet above the lower level, the ladder must be equipped with a cage, well, or ladder safety device. For ladders installed after November 19, 2018, a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system is required.
  5. Ladder Rungs: Rungs should be evenly spaced and have a diameter of at least three-fourths inch for metal ladders. Rungs should also have a slip-resistant surface to prevent accidental slips and falls.
  6. Maintenance and Inspection: Regular inspections should be carried out to ensure the ladder and roof hatch are in good condition. Any defects should be repaired or the ladder should be replaced.
  7. User Training: Users should be trained in the safe use of roof access ladders, including how to open and close the hatch safely, climb the ladder safely, and how to use any provided safety equipment.

Always refer to the latest OSHA standards for the most accurate and detailed guidelines. Safety should be the utmost priority when using roof access ladders.

Roof access ladders that are compliant with the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the International Building Code (IBC) are designed to provide safe and secure access to roofs, while minimizing the risk of accidents. These regulations provide detailed requirements for the design, construction, and use of roof access ladders. Here are some key points:

Compliance 1:

OSHA Compliant Ladders

  1. Height and Length: Ladders over 24 feet (7.3 meters) must have a personal fall arrest system, ladder safety system, cage, or well. Additionally, each ladder section should be offset from adjacent sections, and landing platforms should be provided at maximum intervals of 150 feet (45.7 meters).
  2. Rungs: Ladder rungs should be shaped such that a person’s foot cannot slip off, and they should be evenly spaced between 10 and 14 inches apart.
  3. Safety Systems and Cages: Ladder safety systems may be used on tower, water tank, and chimney ladders over 20 feet in unbroken length instead of cage protection. No landing platform is required in these cases.
  4. Extension: The ladder must extend at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) above the roof’s surface or be equipped with grab rails if the parapet is high enough to offer a handhold.

Compliance 2:

IBC Compliant Ladders

  1. Access and Egress: Ladders should be placed so that the swing of the door does not reduce the ladder’s required width. Adequate illumination should be provided for all means of egress.
  2. Width and Height: The minimum clear width of a rung or cleat should be 16 inches, and the rungs should have a minimum diameter of three-fourths of an inch for metal ladders. The maximum vertical rise from one landing platform to the next should not exceed 30 feet.
  3. Landing Platforms: Landing platforms should be at least as wide as the stairway and a minimum of 30 inches in length measured in the direction of travel.
  4. Protection and Enclosure: The ladder should be protected and enclosed, typically with a cage, if it extends more than 30 feet above grade, floor, or landing.

These are just a few general guidelines. Actual regulations and code requirements can be quite complex and depend on specific situations, so it’s always best to refer to the actual OSHA or IBC standards or consult with an expert when designing, installing, or using a roof access ladder.

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