Extension Ladders

Extension Ladders

These ladders extend to reach higher locations and can be retracted for easy storage.

Industrial extension ladders are typically used in environments where variable heights are required, or where a ladder of fixed length would not be practical due to the varying work heights or storage and transport issues.

What are the primary uses?

  1. Access to Variable Heights: The main use of extension ladders is to access varying heights. These ladders can extend to reach different levels, making them versatile for jobs at various heights.
  2. Maintenance and Inspection: Extension ladders are commonly used for maintenance and inspection tasks, such as servicing overhead machinery, electrical work, HVAC system work, and other tasks that require reaching elevated areas.
  3. Construction Work: In construction and building industries, extension ladders are frequently used to reach high locations, such as roofs, scaffolding, or upper levels of structures.
  4. Utility Work: In the utilities sector, extension ladders are used by workers servicing overhead lines or equipment, whether for telecommunications, electricity, or other utilities.
  5. Emergency Services: Extension ladders are used by emergency services, such as firefighting, to access high locations quickly and safely.
  6. Tree Work: In industries like arboriculture, extension ladders are used for tasks like tree trimming or inspection.
  7. Cleaning Services: For industrial cleaning services, especially those involving high structures, extension ladders are a necessity. They’re used for window cleaning, gutter cleaning, and other maintenance tasks.
  8. Storage and Transport: Extension ladders have the advantage of being compact when not in use, making them easier to store and transport, which is especially useful in industrial settings where space might be limited.

Just like any other industrial equipment, safety precautions need to be strictly adhered to when using industrial extension ladders. This includes maintaining three points of contact, not exceeding the weight limit, not overreaching, and following other safety protocols.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines for the safe design, usage, and maintenance of extension ladders in industrial environments. Here are key points defining an OSHA-compliant extension ladder:


  1. Ladder Design and Construction: The ladder must be designed and constructed to carry its intended load. Ladders must be able to support at least four times the maximum intended load, except that each extra-heavy-duty type 1A metal or plastic ladder shall sustain at least 3.3 times the maximum intended load.
  2. Extension Ladder Length: The length of an extension ladder must be sufficient so that the user does not have to stand on the top rung or step. When an extension ladder is used to access an elevated work surface, the ladder side rails must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support.
  3. Proper Angle Placement: Extension ladders should be set-up so they are angled at approximately 75.5 degrees from the ground. The distance from the base of the ladder to the supporting structure should be about one-fourth the height of the ladder.
  4. Ladder Footing: The ladder must be placed on a secure and level footing. When necessary, ladder levelers should be used to achieve equal rail support on uneven surfaces.
  5. Rungs and Steps: The rungs and steps of portable metal ladders must be corrugated, knurled, dimpled, coated with skid-resistant material, or treated to minimize the possibility of slipping.
  6. Ladder Maintenance: Ladders must be inspected regularly, with any defective components repaired or replaced.
  7. Safe Usage: The user should always maintain a 3-point contact (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) while climbing an extension ladder. Overreaching or standing on the top rung or step is not allowed.

Remember, these are just general guidelines. For complete and up-to-date information, refer to the latest OSHA regulations. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using any ladder.

Commercial extension ladders that comply with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and IBC (International Building Code) standards have specific safety features to ensure user safety and accessibility. These standards regulate the design, construction, and use of these ladders to minimize risks and ensure safety. Here are some key features of OSHA and IBC compliant commercial extension ladders:


  1. Length and Duty Rating: Extension ladders must have the correct length for the task at hand and a duty rating sufficient to support the combined weight of the user and any tools or materials.
  2. Extension Mechanism: Ladders should have an efficient and safe extension and locking mechanism that prevents the ladder from slipping once set to the desired length.
  3. Rungs: Rungs must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when the ladder is in position for use. They should also have a slip-resistant surface.
  4. Rails: The ladder should have side rails long enough so that the height to the top support is not less than 36 inches.
  5. Ladder Angle: For extension ladders, the “4-to-1” rule must be applied. This means that for every four feet of height to the point of support, the base of the ladder should be one foot out from the wall or surface it leans against.
  6. Usage: Ladders must only be used on stable and level surfaces unless they are secured to prevent accidental displacement. Users should always face the ladder when climbing up or down.
  7. Condition: Ladders should be regularly inspected for visible defects, corrosion, or other safety issues, and any ladder found to be defective should be immediately taken out of service.
  8. Overlap: For two-section extension ladders, the minimum overlap for the two sections should be based on the ladder’s size, following the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines.

While OSHA sets minimum safety standards for the workplace, IBC standards can vary by location and the specifics of the building code in your jurisdiction. Always consult with a professional to ensure full compliance with all applicable regulations.

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