Last Updated: 02/28/2018

The purpose of the Injury Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) is to outline Cal Maritime's environmental health and safety requirements, expectations, and responsibilities in order to achieve effective campus safety performance through Integrated Safety Management (ISM). The Ladder Safety Program is a subject specific component the supports the overall University IIPP.

Note: Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB) is regulated under MARAD. For operations pertaining to TSGB  -  Refer to Shoreside Administration Manual (SAM) and Vessel Operations Manual (VOM).

About Ladder Safety+ 

The use of ladders presents significant workplace hazards. The California Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2005, 12 people in California died from falls from ladders. Unsafe ladder use, such as using the wrong kind of ladder or upsetting the ladder's balance by leaning too far from its center of gravity, has resulted in injuries to University employees, as well as Cal/OSHA citations and fines being assessed to UC campuses.

The Department of Safety & Risk Management has developed this program to support the California State University Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime) as a means to describe all aspects of ladder safety including a ladder safe-use policy, personnel accountability, hazard assessment and proper ladder selection, safe work practices, training requirements and record keeping.

This program applies to any use of ladders three (3) feet in height/length or greater by employees of the University as part of their normal work activities. This includes temporary employees and graduate students performing research related activities in field stations and remote research facilities


Hazard Assessment + 






Falling, Electrical Conductivity


The construction, installation, and use of ladders shall conform to ANSI A14.1, ANSI A14.2, ANSI A14.3, and ANSI A14.4, as applicable.

Length of ladders.

  1. All portable ladders shall be of sufficient length and shall be placed so that workers will not stretch or assume a hazardous position.
  2. Portable ladders, used as temporary access, shall extend at least 3 ft (0.9 m) above the upper landing surface. The length of portable stepladders shall not exceed 20 ft (6 m).

Width of ladders.

  1. The minimum clear distance between the sides of individual rung/step ladders shall be 16 in (40.6 cm).
  2. The minimum clear distance between side rails for all portable ladders shall be 12 in (30.4 cm).

Spacing of rungs, cleats, and steps on ladders.

  1. On portable ladders, spacing of rungs shall be 8 in (20.3 cm)- 14 in (35.5 cm) on center and uniform.
  2. On step stools, spacing shall be not less than 8 in (20.3 cm) or more than 12 in (30.4 cm) apart, as measured from their centerlines.
  3. On extension trestle ladders, spacing on the base section shall be not less than 8 in (20.3 cm) or more than 18 in (45.7cm) apart, as measured from their centerlines. On the extension section, spacing shall not be less than 6 in (15.2 cm) or more than 12 in (30.4 cm) apart, as measured from their centerlines.
  4. Ladders shall be surfaced so as to prevent injury to a worker from punctures or lacerations and to prevent snagging of clothing.
  5. Wooden ladders shall not be coated with any opaque covering, except for identification or warning labels that may be placed on only one face of a side rail.
  • A metal spreader bar or locking device shall be provided on each stepladder to hold the front and back sections in an open position



Set-up of ladders.

  1. Ladders shall not be placed in passageways, doorways, drives, or any locations where they may be displaced by any other work unless protected by barricades or guards.
  2. Portable ladders shall be used at such a pitch that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder will not be greater than ¼ the vertical distance between these points.
  3. Wooden job-made ladders, with spliced rails, shall be used at an angle such that the horizontal distance is 1/8 the length of the ladder.
  4. Ladders shall be secured by top, bottom, and intermediate fastenings, as necessary to hold them rigidly in place and to support the loads that will be imposed upon them.
  5. The steps or rungs of all ladders shall be set to provide at least 7 in (17.7 cm) toe space from the inside edge of the rung to the nearest interference.
  6. The top of a non-self-supporting ladder shall be placed with the two rails supported equally, unless the ladder is equipped with a single support attachment.

Step-across distance. The step-across distance from the nearest edge of ladder to the nearest edge of equipment or structure shall be not more than 12 in (30.5 cm) or less than 2- 1/2 in (6.4 cm)



Use of ladders.

  1. Ladders shall be restricted to their intended use.
  2. Ladders shall be inspected for visible defects on a daily basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use. Broken or damaged ladders shall be immediately tagged "DO NOT USE," or with similar wording, and withdrawn from service until restored to a condition meeting their original design.
  3. Ladders shall not be moved, shifted, or extended while occupied.
  4. Ladders shall not be climbed by more than one person at a time, unless it is designed to be climbed by more than one person.
  5. Portable ladders used as means of access to ascend and descend to a work location do not require fall protection, however only light work for short periods of time shall be performed on portable ladders.
  6. No work requiring lifting of heavy materials or substantial exertion shall be done from ladders.
  7. When ladders are the only means of access to or from a working area for 25 or more workers, or when a ladder is to serve simultaneous two-way traffic, double cleated ladders shall be used.
  8. Portable ladders shall have slip-resistant feet.
  9. The top or top step of a stepladder, shall not be used, as a step unless it has been designed to be so used by the manufacturer.
  10. Ensure latches are in place before climbing an extension ladder.
  11. Keep loose tools off the steps and top platform. Job made ladders will be made in accordance with ANSI A14.4.
  12. Single-rail ladders shall not be used.
  13. Three-legged ladders may be used for specific tasks, if evaluate by the SRM.

The use of ladder climbing devices shall be in accordance with 21.I. Articulated ladders are allowed if they meet ANSI A14.2 standard. Any ladder accessory, including but not limited to, ladder levelers, ladder stabilizers or stand-off devices, ladder jacks or ladder straps or hooks, that may be installed or used in conjunction with ladders must be installed and used per manufacturer's instructions.



General Requirements + 

General Requirements

The Department owning ladders designates the "Ladder Program Administrator(s)" responsible for the following actions:

  • Assures that ladders purchased/used in the department are code-compliant and appropriate for the needed safe-work tasks.
  • Consults with the Department of Safety and Risk Management (SRM) as needed to assess proper ladder use and procurement specifications.
  • Coordinates with SRM to provide ladder safety training, or provides ladder training themselves (by JSA or other presentation), to all department personnel who use ladders. In either case, training must detail the contents of this program including ladder user's safe-work rules, inspections, etc.
  • Periodically audits departmental compliance with the Program.
  • Conducts ladder inspections as part of the "shop safety inspection" process.
  • Implements the following ladder inspection/tracking requirements:
    1. Develops ladder-identification system and uniquely numbers each ladder owned by the department for inventory/tracking purposes.
    2. Inspects ladders for damage and documents inspections per inspection form/criteria in program.
    3. Locks or tags damaged ladders to insure they will not be used until repaired.
    4. Renders damaged ladders that cannot be repaired unusable by cutting them into pieces or other destructive means, and then assures proper disposal of them.
    5. Assures that any wooden ladders in use are not painted with any color other than clear wood sealer to allow detailed inspection of wood grain and quality. Wood ladders that are painted or not clear-finished with the wood grain visible for inspection must be destroyed.
    6. If not already done so by the manufacturer, mark portable metal ladders with the words:



Safe Work Practices + 

Ladder Safe Work Practices

  • Select a ladder that is the proper length and "duty rating" for the intended work.

Note: A leaning-ladder must extend at least 36" above the edge of a roof/mezzanine when properly installed. A step ladder must be tall enough so that you don't have to stand on the top or top two rungs of the ladder to access your work.

  • Do not use electrically conductive (e.g. aluminum) ladders for electrical work or near live electrical parts.
  • Inspect the ladder for broken of defective parts prior to each use.
  • Remove damaged or defective ladders from use and notify department management of the problem ladder.
  • Do not place ladders where they can be accidentally struck or displaced.
  • If the ladder is used in an area where anyone could walk under it, the area must be cordoned off with a visual barrier such as yellow caution tape to alert pedestrians to the hazard of something falling from the ladder.
  • Ladders must not be placed in passageways, doorways, driveways, or any location where they may be displaced by activities being conducted on any other work, unless protected by barricades or guards.
  • For leaning or extension ladders, tie, block, or otherwise secure while in use.
  • Do not splice ladders together.
  • Always face the ladder while ascending and descending.
  • Do not stand on the top two rungs of a single ladder or an extension ladder;
  • Do not stand on the top cap and top two steps of a step ladder.
  • Do not stand on the top three rungs of ladders unless there are members of an adjacent structure that provide a firm handhold, or the ladder user is protected by a personal fall protection system (e.g., positioning device or fall restraint system) tied off to a CalOSHA certified fall protection anchor.
  • If working outside of the ladder's footprint, or when standing on the upper-most parts of the ladder as noted above, use an appropriate fall protection system as described in the SRM Safety Topic Guide "Fall Protection Equipment and Inspection".
  • Do not place planks on the top cap or any other part of a ladder.
  • Do not use the X-bracing or other structures on the rear section of a stepladder for climbing unless the ladder is designed to be climbed from both sides. (See Extension Trestle Ladders and similar.)
  • Make sure that a stepladder is properly set up and that the spreader is locked in place before use.
  • Do not use the stepladder as a lean-to ladder.
  • Always use a tool belt and other ‘hands-free' carrying devices when ascending and descending a ladder.
  • When working aloft, secure tools and supplies so they cannot fall from the ladder.



Ladder Selection + 

Ladder Selection

Ladders are designed and constructed to safely hold up to a specified amount of weight. Ladders come in five (5) different Duty Ratings identified by their "Type". The Duty Rating is defined as the maximum safe load capacity of the ladder. A person's fully-clothed weight plus the weight of any tools and materials that are carried onto the ladder must be less than the duty rating.

  • Cal Maritime requires at minimum the strength of a "Type II" ladder for any work activities where ladders are used for elevated work projects where the user is not handling large or heavy objects during ladder usage.
  • ·All Maintenance/Trades are recommended to use "Type I" or stronger ladders for their work activities. Owner Departments that have maintenance/trades activities are required to purchase and use "Type I, Type IA or Type IAA"  ladders based upon the required strength for safe work by their workforce.

Research and other Academic Departments not performing maintenance/trades type activities may optionally inventory and use Type I or Type II ladders. Purchas and use of "Type III" ladders should be avoided as their duty rating is too light making them more likely to fail before the end of their useful life expectancy, with a strong potential for injury resulting from their use

Duty Ratings +

Duty Ratings

Duty Ratings are described in terms of pounds, such as a "300lb. Duty-Rated Type IA" ladder which is designed for extra heavy-duty professional use where the total weight on the ladder does not exceed 300 pounds.

Ladders are also built to handle the demands of various applications. For example, a  ladder used frequently on a construction site by larger/heavier workers should typically be stronger and possess a corresponding higher duty rating than one used by a smaller/lighter-weight person for infrequent "light" overhead work.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has established the "Duty Rating" that is used by Cal/OSHA. This rating identifies which portable ladder is intended for the conditions under which the ladder can be safely used. The Duty Rating system is summarized below, and may be further researched at the following link:

Ladder Duty Rating or "Type"

Capable of Supporting

Rated Use


375 lbs.

Special Duty


300 lbs.

Extra Heavy Duty Industrial


250 lbs.

Heavy Duty Industrial


225 lbs.

Medium Duty Commercial


200 lbs.

Light Duty Household


Fall Protection- When Working From Ladders +

Ladders may be used WITHOUT the user wearing a personal harness tied off to a CalOSHA certified fall protection anchor, when a leaning or extension ladder can be tied-off and stabilized to a permanent structure, or a step ladder is used on a level firm surface, and then work is done within the following specific activities:

1.     When using the ladder to gain access from one level to another without carrying anything in your hands.

2.     When using a ladder for access to a work area where work is conducted while standing on the ladder, provided the user can ascend and descend using both their hands during the entire up/down movement on the ladder.

3.     When working aloft on the ladder provided both of the user's feet are stationary on one rung and the work area requiring two-handed work is within the ladder's ‘foot print' (i.e. no reaching beyond the base legs of the ladder with both hands).

4.     When the user can use three-point contact (both their feet plus one hand) for stability when reaching and working outside the ladder's ‘foot print' using only one ‘free' hand.

5.     When the ladder user's feet are below the top two rungs of a leaning single/extension-ladder, or are below the top two steps and top cap of a step ladder.

6.     When doing elevated ‘fine two-handed work' within the ‘foot print' of the ladder, where a user is using both hands to conduct light-weight work without the use of power tools. (Example: Twisting a wire nut on two to three 12-gage or smaller wires, hammering a nail into wood, or unscrewing a light bulb and installing a replacement light bulb.)

7.     When using a small cordless power tool such as a ¼" bit (or smaller) hand-drill that is not likely to cause imbalance should the power tool bind during use.

8.     When using a corded power tool within the ‘foot print' of the ladder using only one hand to control the tool, and otherwise having 3-point contact on the ladder.

Fall protection must be used in all other ladder-use situations unless the Owner Department can demonstrate that the planned work activities are equivalently safe to the above noted requirements. Alternatives to using fall protection include temporary scaffolding with appropriate railings, the use of a "Lift Pod", the use of Genie lifts or bucket trucks, etc., and should be considered before using ladders in such situation


Housekeeping +


  • Clear debris and equipment that could cause a slip, trip, or fall from working areas around the ladder.
  • Prevent equipment and supplies from falling on other people.
  • Set up ground cloths if needed.
  • Cordon off work areas using yellow caution tape to keep casual passersby out of your work area.


Key Definitions +

"A" Frame ladder

Also Known as a "Step Ladder"

Angle of Inclination:

The preferred pitch for portable non self-supporting ladders

Articulating Ladder:

Also known as a "Combination Ladder", "Sectional Ladder" or "Multi-position ladder". This is a portable ladder capable of being used either as a stepladder, a single ladder or an extension ladder. It may also be capable of being used as a trestle ladder or a stairwell ladder.


A cage is a guard that may be referred to as a cage or basket guard, which is an enclosure that is fastened to the side rails of a fixed ladder or to the structure to encircle the climbing space of the ladder for the safety of the person who must climb the ladder.


Ladder crosspieces of rectangular cross section placed on edge upon which a person may step while ascending or descending. Also known as ladder "rungs".

Combination Ladder:

Another name for "Articulating Ladder" . See definition above.

Double Front or Twin Front Ladder:

a self-standing ladder that is designed to allow both sides of the ladder to be climbed safely.


The component of the ladder that is in contact with the lower supporting surface.

Fixed Ladder:

a ladder that is permanently attached to a structure, building, or equipment.

Grab bars:

Are individual handholds placed adjacent to or as an extension above ladders for the purpose of providing safe hand-hold above the "top" of the ladder.

Individual-Rung Ladder

a fixed ladder, each rung of which is individually attached to a structure, building or equipment

Ladder Stand

a mobile fixed sized self-supporting ladder consisting of a wide, flat tread ladder in the form of stairs. The assembly may include handrails but does not include a platform.

Multi-Position Ladder

Another name for an "Articulating Ladder". See definition above.


Ladder crosspieces upon which a person may step while ascending or descending. Rungs are usually "round" in cross-section while "cleats" are usually rectangular in cross-section. See definition of "Cleats" above.

Sectional Ladder

Another name for "Articulating Ladder". See definition above.


(as related to a "Sectional Ladder")

Bottom or base section

The lowest section of a non-self-supporting portable ladder

Top or Fly section

The uppermost section of a non-self-supporting portable ladder.

Middle or Intermediate section

The section between the top (fly) and bottom (base) sections of a non-self-supporting portable ladder.

Single Ladder

A non-self-supporting portable ladder, nonadjustable in length, consisting of one section.

Side Rails

The side members joined at intervals by rungs, steps, cleats or rear braces.

Step Stool (ladder type)

a self-supporting, foldable, portable ladder, non-adjustable in length, 32 inches or less in size, with flat steps and without a pail shelf designed so that the ladder top cap as well as all steps can be climbed upon. The side rails may continue above the top cap.

Step Ladder

A self-supporting portable ladder, non-adjustable in length, with flat steps and a hinged base. Also known as an "A"-Frame ladder.

Top Cap

The uppermost horizontal member of a portable step ladder or step stool.

Working Load

The maximum applied load, including the weight of the user, materials, and tools, which the ladder is to support for the intended use.



Regulatory Standard Reference +