Oregon OSHA Construction Depot Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

January 23, 2017

Construction Q&A: Ladder grasping devices

What is a ladder grasping device?

When you use a portable ladder to access an upper landing, the side rails must extend at least three feet above the landing. If that's not possible, then the ladder must be secured at its top to a rigid support that will not deflect, and you must ensure that you can safely get off the ladder and onto the landing. You will need what Oregon OSHA's Ladders rule for the construction industry calls a "grasping device," or a grab rail [See 1926.1053(b)(1)]. Typically, these devices attach to the top of the ladder.

Other examples of grasping devices include the support columns of a guardrail system around the landing and grab handles attached to a wall above the landing; grab handles must be "closely in line" with the ladder side rails. To ensure a safe grip, the grab handle should start at three feet and extend downward 12 to 18 inches or far enough to ensure a safe grip.

Also remember: If you have employees who use ladders, make sure that a competent person has trained them. Their training must cover ladder hazards, how to use ladders, ladder capacities, and Oregon OSHA's requirements for the ladders they use.