1910.21 - Scope and definitions. (2023)

Definitions.The following definitions apply in this subpart:

Alternating tread-type stairmeans a type of stairway consisting of a series of treads that usually are attached to a center support in an alternating manner such that an employee typically does not have both feet on the same level while using the stairway.

Anchoragemeans a secure point of attachment for equipment such as lifelines, lanyards, deceleration devices, and rope descent systems.

Authorizedmeans an employee who the employer assigns to perform a specific type of duty, or allows in a specific location or area.

Cagemeans an enclosure mounted on the side rails of a fixed ladder or fastened to a structure behind the fixed ladder that is designed to surround the climbing space of the ladder. A cage also is called a “cage guard” or “basket guard.”

Carriermeans the track of a ladder safety system that consists of a flexible cable or rigid rail attached to the fixed ladder or immediately adjacent to it.

Combinationladdermeans a portable ladder that can be used as a stepladder, extension ladder, trestle ladder, or stairway ladder. The components of a combination ladder also may be used separately as a single ladder.

Dangerous equipmentmeans equipment, such as vats, tanks, electrical equipment, machinery, equipment or machinery with protruding parts, or other similar units, that, because of their function or form, may harm an employee who falls into or onto the equipment.

Designated areameans a distinct portion of a walking-working surface delineated by a warning line in which employees may perform work without additional fall protection.

Dockboardmeans a portable or fixed device that spans a gap or compensates for a difference in elevation between a loading platform and a transport vehicle. Dockboards include, but are not limited to, bridge plates, dock plates, and dock levelers.

Equivalentmeans alternative designs, equipment, materials, or methods, that the employer can demonstrate will provide an equal or greater degree of safety for employees compared to the designs, equipment, materials, or methods specified in this subpart.

Extension laddermeans a non-self-supporting portable ladder that is adjustable in length.

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Failuremeans a load refusal, breakage, or separation of component parts. A load refusal is the point at which the ultimate strength of a component or object is exceeded.

Fall hazardmeans any condition on a walking-working surface that exposes an employee to a risk of harm from a fall on the same level or to a lower level.

Fall protectionmeans any equipment, device, or system that prevents an employee from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.

Fixed laddermeans a ladder with rails or individual rungs that is permanently attached to a structure, building, or equipment. Fixed ladders include individual-rung ladders, but not ship stairs, step bolts, or manhole steps.

Grab barmeans an individual horizontal or vertical handhold installed to provide access above the height of the ladder.

Guardrail systemmeans a barrier erected along an unprotected or exposed side, edge, or other area of a walking-working surface to prevent employees from falling to a lower level.

Handrailmeans a rail used to provide employees with a handhold for support.

Hoist areameans any elevated access opening to a walking-working surface through which equipment or materials are loaded or received.

Holemeans a gap or open space in a floor, roof, horizontal walking-working surface, or similar surface that is at least 2 inches (5 cm) in its least dimension.

Individual-rung laddermeans a ladder that has rungs individually attached to a building or structure. An individual-rung ladder does not include manhole steps.

Laddermeans a device with rungs, steps, or cleats used to gain access to a different elevation.

Ladder safety systemmeans a system designed to eliminate or reduce the possibility of falling from a ladder. A ladder safety system usually consists of a carrier, safety sleeve, lanyard, connectors, and body harness. Cages and wells are not ladder safety systems.


Low-slope roofmeans a roof that has a slope less than or equal to a ratio of 4 in 12 (vertical to horizontal).

Lower levelmeans a surface or area to which an employee could fall. Such surfaces or areas include, but are not limited to, ground levels, floors, roofs, ramps, runways, excavations, pits, tanks, materials, water, equipment, and similar surfaces and structures, or portions thereof.

Manhole stepsmeans steps that are individually attached to, or set into, the wall of a manhole structure.

Maximum intended loadmeans the total load (weight and force) of all employees, equipment, vehicles, tools, materials, and other loads the employer reasonably anticipates to be applied to a walking-working surface at any one time.

Mobilemeans manually propelled or moveable.

Mobile ladder stand(ladder stand) means a mobile, fixed-height, self-supporting ladder that usually consists of wheels or casters on a rigid base and steps leading to a top step. A mobile ladder stand also may have handrails and is designed for use by one employee at a time.

Mobile ladder stand platformmeans a mobile, fixed-height, self-supporting unit having one or more standing platforms that are provided with means of access or egress.

Open risermeans the gap or space between treads of stairways that do not have upright or inclined members (risers).

Openingmeans a gap or open space in a wall, partition, vertical walking-working surface, or similar surface that is at least 30 inches (76 cm) high and at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide, through which an employee can fall to a lower level.

Personal fall arrest systemmeans a system used to arrest an employee in a fall from a walking-working surface. It consists of a body harness, anchorage, and connector. The means of connection may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or a suitable combination of these.

Personal fall protection systemmeans a system (including all components) an employer uses to provide protection from falling or to safely arrest an employee's fall if one occurs. Examples of personal fall protection systems include personal fall arrest systems, positioning systems, and travel restraint systems.

Platformmeans a walking-working surface that is elevated above the surrounding area.

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Portable laddermeans a ladder that can readily be moved or carried, and usually consists of side rails joined at intervals by steps, rungs, or cleats.

Positioning system(work-positioning system) means a system of equipment and connectors that, when used with a body harness or body belt, allows an employee to be supported on an elevated vertical surface, such as a wall or window sill, and work with both hands free. Positioning systems also are called “positioning system devices” and “work-positioning equipment.”

Qualifieddescribes a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

Rampmeans an inclined walking-working surface used to access another level.

Risermeans the upright (vertical) or inclined member of a stair that is located at the back of a stair tread or platform and connects close to the front edge of the next higher tread, platform, or landing.

Rope descent systemmeans a suspension system that allows an employee to descend in a controlled manner and, as needed, stop at any point during the descent. A rope descent system usually consists of a roof anchorage, support rope, a descent device, carabiner(s) or shackle(s), and a chair (seatboard). A rope descent system also is called controlled descent equipment or apparatus. Rope descent systems do not include industrial rope access systems.

Rung, step, or cleatmeans the cross-piece of a ladder on which an employee steps to climb up and down.

Runwaymeans an elevated walking-working surface, such as a catwalk, a foot walk along shafting, or an elevated walkway between buildings.

Scaffoldmeans any temporary elevated or suspended platform and its supporting structure, including anchorage points, used to support employees, equipment, materials, and other items. For purposes of this subpart, a scaffold does not include a crane-suspended or derrick-suspended personnel platform or a rope descent system.

Ship stair(ship ladder) means a stairway that is equipped with treads, stair rails, and open risers, and has a slope that is between 50 and 70 degrees from the horizontal.

Side-step laddermeans a type of fixed ladder that requires an employee to step sideways from it in order to reach a walking-working surface, such as a landing.

Spiral stairsmeans a series of treads attached to a vertical pole in a winding fashion, usually within a cylindrical space.

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Stair rail or stair rail systemmeans a barrier erected along the exposed or open side of stairways to prevent employees from falling to a lower level.

Stairway (stairs)means risers and treads that connect one level with another, and includes any landings and platforms in between those levels. Stairways include standard, spiral, alternating tread-type, and ship stairs.

Standard stairsmeans a fixed or permanently installed stairway. Ship, spiral, and alternating tread-type stairs are not considered standard stairs.

Step bolt(pole step) means a bolt or rung attached at intervals along a structural member used for foot placement and as a handhold when climbing or standing.

Stepladdermeans a self-supporting, portable ladder that has a fixed height, flat steps, and a hinged back.

Stepstoolmeans a self-supporting, portable ladder that has flat steps and side rails. For purposes of the final rule, stepstool includes only those ladders that have a fixed height, do not have a pail shelf, and do not exceed 32 inches (81 cm) in overall height to the top cap, although side rails may extend above the top cap. A stepstool is designed so an employee can climb and stand on all of the steps and the top cap.

Through laddermeans a type of fixed ladder that allows the employee to step through the side rails at the top of the ladder to reach a walking-working surface, such as a landing.

Tiebackmeans an attachment between an anchorage (e.g.,structural member) and a supporting device (e.g.,parapet clamp or cornice hook).

Toeboardmeans a low protective barrier that is designed to prevent materials, tools, and equipment from falling to a lower level, and protect employees from falling.

Travel restraint systemmeans a combination of an anchorage, anchorage connector, lanyard (or other means of connection), and body support that an employer uses to eliminate the possibility of an employee going over the edge of a walking-working surface.

Treadmeans a horizontal member of a stair or stairway, but does not include landings or platforms.

Unprotected sides and edgesmean any side or edge of a walking-working surface (except at entrances and other points of access) where there is no wall, guardrail system, or stair rail system to protect an employee from falling to a lower level.

Walking-working surfacemeans any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location.

Warning linemeans a barrier erected to warn employees that they are approaching an unprotected side or edge, and which designates an area in which work may take place without the use of other means of fall protection.

Wellmeans a permanent, complete enclosure around a fixed ladder.


What is considered a portable ladder? ›

The ANSI standard A14. 2-1990 defines a portable ladder as "a ladder that can readily be moved or carried, usually consisting of side rails joined at intervals by step, rungs, cleats, or rear braces."

What is being referred to in the following definition of barrier along the open sides of stairways and platforms that prevent falling? ›

Stair rail or stair rail system means a barrier erected along the exposed or open side of stairways to prevent employees from falling to a lower level.

What is the maximum length of a non self supporting single ladder? ›

Extension Ladder – A non self-supporting portable ladder adjustable in length. Portable stepladders longer than 20 feet shall not be used.

Which of the following is a fall protection system? ›

Generally, fall protection can be provided through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. OSHA refers to these systems as conventional fall protection.

What are the three main types of ladders? ›

Choosing the Right Ladder for the Job

Single Pole Ladders (maximum length 9 metres) Extension Ladders (maximum length 15 metres) Step Ladders (maximum height 6.1 metres)

What are the four OSHA requirements for fall protection? ›

OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations.

What are the three components of guard rail system? ›

There are three main parts of a guardrail: The top rails, the midrails, and the vertical posts.

How does OSHA define fall protection? ›

Fall protection means any equipment, device, or system that prevents an employee from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.

What is the minimum length of a non supporting single ladder? ›

20 feet. A non self-supporting portable ladder, or single ladder, is non-adjustable in length, consisting of one section.

What is a non self supporting ladder? ›

A non-self-supporting portable ladder adjustable in length. It consists of two or more sections traveling in guides or brackets or the equivalent and so arranged as to permit length adjustment.

Does OSHA require 3 points of contact on a ladder? ›

The intent of 29 CFR 1910.23(b)(12) is for employers to ensure that workers maintain "three-point contact" (i.e., three points of control) with the ladder at all times while climbing. OSHA considers that grasping the ladder on horizontal rungs is preferable, and encourages employers to follow this practice.

What are the two types of fall protection? ›

Two basic types of fall protection are travel restraint and fall arrest. Both involve wearing a full-body harness. A travel restraint system keeps you from getting too close to an unprotected edge. The lifeline and lanyard are adjusted to let you reach the edge but not fall over it.

How many types of fall are there? ›

The four types of falls go into categories based on what caused the fall. They include step, slip, trip and stump. A step and fall is when you walk on a surface that has a change in height you were not expecting. This could be a step down, a hole or an uneven surface that slopes or dips down.

What are the types of fall hazards? ›

A. Fall Hazards
  • Building Structures.
  • Exterior Construction Areas.
  • Scaffolds.
  • Stairs.
  • Ladders.
  • Guardrails.
  • Warning Lines.
  • Personal Fall Arrest Systems.

What is the OSHA standard for ladders? ›

The minimum clear distance between side rails for all portable ladders must be 11.5 inches (29 cm). edge of a landing area must be no less than 7 inches (18 cm) and no more than 12 inches (30 cm). A landing platform must be provided if the step-across distance exceeds 12 inches (30 cm).

How is ladder height measured? ›

The open height is measured from the floor to the top plastic section when the steps are fully open. The closed height is measured the same but with the step ladders fully closed or in it's folded position.

What is the difference between a Type 1 and Type 2 ladder? ›

Type II (Medium Duty): This grade holds up to 225 pounds. This type includes ladders used in construction and other commercial contract work. Type I (Heavy Duty): This grade holds up to 250 pounds. Type I is often used for industrial applications that require heavy equipment or gear.

What is standard ladder height? ›

Height to Gutter or to Support PointBuy This Size Ladder (include a 3-foot extension above roof line)
17 to 21 feet28-foot
21 to 25 feet32-foot
25 to 28 feet36-foot
28 to 31 feet40-foot
3 more rows

What are uses of ladders? ›

Ladders can be used for work at height when an assessment of the risk for carrying out a task has shown that using equipment that offers a higher level of fall protection is not justified. This is because of the low risk and short duration of use, or there are existing workplace features which cannot be altered.

What is ladder safety? ›

Always face the ladder and maintain contact with the ladder at three-points at all times. Contact with the ladder at three points means two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot which is safely supporting the user's weight.

What is the minimum height to wear safety harness? ›

7 A fall protection equipment shall be used when working in a height of 2 meters and above. For work height of 10 meters, workers are required to use fall arrest equipment. 2.2.

How long is a harness good for OSHA? ›

There is no such thing as a predetermined or mandated expiration date on fall protection harnesses. Neither OSHA nor ANSI have current codes or standards that set a specific time period for taking a harness out of service.

What are the 3 types of falls that occur on a construction site? ›

Falls can be categorized into three types: falls on a single level, falls to a lower level, and swing falls. In this week's post we'll examine these three types of falls and how understanding your workplace fall hazards can help you select the proper fall protection system.

What is the purpose of guardrail? ›

Are guardrails erected only to protect from the side of the driver on the road service or would it also be intended to keep animals and pedestrians from entering traffic from the side of the road? Primarily yes, it is installed as a vehicle restraint system and sometimes a pedestrian protection system.

What is the maximum height for a guardrail? ›

(a) A standard guardrail shall consist of top rail, midrail or equivalent protection, and posts, and shall have a vertical height within the range of 42 inches to 45 inches from the upper surface of the top rail to the floor, platform, runway, or ramp level.

What are guardrails called? ›

Although the OSHA standard calls for a guardrail or guardrail system to protect workers on elevated work areas, current industry terminology would refer to that type of safety system as a handrail system or safety rail system.

What is the difference between fall prevention and fall protection? ›

The key distinction between the two types of products is fairly self-explanatory. Indeed, fall protection 'protects' seniors AFTER a fall, whereas fall prevention products attempt to prevent the fall from ever occurring at all. Sometimes, despite all of your precautions, falls still happen.

What are OSHA's three steps to fall protection? ›

Fall Protection in Three Steps: Plan, Provide, Train
  • PLAN ahead to get the job done safely.
  • PROVIDE the right equipment. Workers who are six feet or more above lower construction levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. ...
  • TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely.
10 Feb 2014

What is OSHA's Fatal Four? ›

The top four causes of construction fatalities are: Falls, Struck-By, Caught-In/Between and Electrocutions.

What is the 1 in 4 rule? ›

For every 4 feet of height, position the base of the ladder 1 foot away from the wall. In other words, the distance between the wall and the base of your ladder should be one quarter of the ladder's height (putting the ladder at a 75° angle).

What is the maximum weight you can carry up a ladder? ›

Type A ladders can hold up to 375 pounds (170 kilograms) in weight. Type-IAA and IA are typically extension ladders, step ladders, and fire escape ladders, which means they can not bear more than 375 pounds (170 kilograms) in weight.

How many clear rungs should you leave? ›

always grip the ladder and face the ladder rungs while climbing or descending – don't slide down the stiles; • don't try to move or extend the ladder while standing on the rungs; • don't work off the top three rungs, and try to make sure that the ladder extends at least 1 m (three rungs) above where you are working; • ...

Does OSHA require a harness on a ladder? ›

Fixed ladders: fall protection must be provided for employees climbing or working on fixed ladders above 24 feet. 29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(19) states that fall protection must be provided whenever the length of climb on a fixed ladder equals or exceeds 24 feet.

Does OSHA allow caged ladders? ›

For existing ladders, within two years, employers must install a cage, well, ladder safety system, or personal fall arrest system on fixed ladders that do not have any fall protection. Within 20 years, all ladders extending more than 24 feet must have a ladder safety or personal fall arrest system.

At what height does OSHA require handrails? ›

The top rail must be at least 42 inches in height (§1910.29(f)(1)(ii)(B)) and the handrail must be 30 to 38 inches in height (§1910.29(f)(1)(i)) (as measured at the leading edge of the stair tread to the top surface of the rail).

Can you hook a lanyard to itself? ›

Most fall arrest lanyards are not designed to wrap around a structure and hook onto themselves, but a worker may try to set it up in that way if no other anchorage point is available. This can cause equipment failure due to damaged to the lanyard material or improper gate loading.

What is free fall distance? ›

Free fall or free fall distance - the distance before the fall arrest system begins to apply force and slow the worker down or arrest the fall. According to OSHA standards, this distance shouldn't be more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) and it depends on lanyard length and where the attachment point is located.

Which is the best fall control? ›

In order of best to worst, these solutions are: Hazard Elimination, Passive Fall Protection, Fall Restraint, Fall Arrest, and Administrative Controls.

What is full body safety harness? ›

A full body harness is a harness designed to hold the wearer upright in the event of a fall from height. If worn correctly, a full body harness will distribute the energy generated during free-fall across the wearers' body evenly, reducing the potential for serious injury.

What are the five major causes of falls? ›

Here are five causes of falls, according to BrightStar Care:
  • Impaired vision. Cataracts and glaucoma alter depth perception, visual acuity, peripheral vision and susceptibility to glare. ...
  • Home hazards. Most homes are full of falling hazards. ...
  • Medication. ...
  • Weakness, low balance. ...
  • Chronic conditions.

What are the major causes of falls? ›

Risk factors for falls
  • weak muscles, especially in the legs.
  • poor balance, causing unsteadiness on your feet.
  • dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • black outs, fainting or loss of consciousness.
  • foot problems – including pain and deformities.
  • memory loss, confusion or difficulties with thinking or problem solving.
16 Sept 2021

What are the three types of fall protection? ›

Generally, fall protection can be provided through the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. OSHA refers to these systems as conventional fall protection. Other systems and methods of fall protection may be used when performing certain activities.

What is the definition of a fall hazard? ›

A fall hazard is anything at your worksite that could cause you to lose your balance or lose bodily support and result in a fall. Any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard. Any time you are working at a height of four feet or. more, you are at risk. OSHA generally requires that.

What are the six steps of fall protection? ›

Identify fall hazards through a hazard analysis. Determine appropriate methods of control. Conduct education, training sessions to ensure effective employee understanding of fall hazards and control methods. Perform inspection and maintenance of fall protection equipment.

Do you need fall protection on a portable ladder? ›

Portable ladders: fall protection is not required for employees climbing or working on portable ladders. Neither the ladder standard (29 CFR 1926, subpart X) nor the fall protection standard (29 CFR 1926, subpart M) requires fall protection for workers while working on portable ladders.

Can portable ladders be used for long term tasks? ›

11) Portable ladders may be used for long term tasks if installed and designated as a permanent work surface.

Can you use a portable ladder on a scaffold? ›

Also, the feasibility of fall protection must be considered. The materials that you provided as well as other research suggest that your use of a portable ladder, in essence, constitutes safe access. However, the described use of a portable ladder on a tank builders' scaffold does violate §1926.451(f)(15).

What are the OSHA requirements for ladder? ›

The minimum clear distance between side rails for all portable ladders must be 11.5 inches (29 cm). edge of a landing area must be no less than 7 inches (18 cm) and no more than 12 inches (30 cm). A landing platform must be provided if the step-across distance exceeds 12 inches (30 cm).

At what height does a ladder need a cage? ›

Protection against falls.

Fixed ladders more than 20 feet (6.1 m) in height shall be provided with a cage, well, or ladder safety device.

What is the maximum height you can work from a ladder? ›

What is the maximum height a ladder can be used? There is no maximum height for using a ladder. However, where a ladder rises 9 metres or more above its base, landing areas or rest platforms should be provided at suitable intervals.

What height is fall protection? ›

OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations.

How do I know my ladder weight limit? ›

Whatever the size and shape, all ladders come with a duty rating — the maximum weight each is designed to carry. Most household ladders are Type 3, rated up to 200 pounds. Heavier-duty Type 2 units are rated to 225 pounds.

How high can a scaffold ladder be? ›

(iii) When hook-on and attachable ladders are used on a supported scaffold more than 35 feet (10.7 m) high, they shall have rest platforms at 35-foot (10.7 m) maximum vertical intervals.

What is the safe angle for a ladder? ›

Set up your ladder at the right angle and in the right location (avoid overreaching). Figure 5 gives guidance in relation to setting up ladders on slightly sloped ground. The correct angle for a ladder is 75 degrees or the 1 in 4 rule.

How high can you reach with scaffolding? ›

The standard dimensions are 5 foot and 7 foot long. Reaching 5 foot high all the way up to 30 feet tall. This would be in reference to stand alone scaffold towers. Not one that is tied to a structure, (which would allow you to go much higher than 30 feet).

What are the main hazards of using ladders? ›

Common Hazards

Standing on the very top step or rung when the ladder is too short for the task. Placing an extension ladder at the wrong angle. Using a worn or damaged ladder. Throwing tools to a worker who is on the ladder • Using metal ladders in areas where it can come in contact with electrical wires.

What is ladder protocol? ›

Ladder of Feedback Guide for Classroom Observations

The "Ladder of Feedback”* is a protocol or structure that establishes a culture of trust and constructive support by sequencing feedback in order that is constructive. The idea or plan is presented to the group.

How can we prevent ladder hazards? ›

Use your tool belt, or hoist materials to get around this problem. Wear sturdy, comfortable boots with slip-resistant soles while climbing a ladder. Avoid climbing a ladder while wearing wet, muddy shoes. Inspect overhead for all electrical lines before setting up a ladder.

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