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Course 603 Certificate
Frame not included.
Modules: 3
Hours: 1
Sectors: General Industry, Construction

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Stairways and ladders are a major source of injuries and fatalities among workers. OSHA estimates there are as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. This course is designed to provide both employers and employees with the knowledge needed to work safely on stairways and ladders.

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As an OSHAcademy student, you can access 100% of our training materials for free, including our module quizzes and course exams. We only charge a small fee if you decide to document your training with our official course certificates.

Key Topics

  • Types of Ladders
  • General Requirements for Ladders
  • Portable Ladders
  • Securing Ladders
  • Ladder Angle
  • Stairways Used During Construction
  • Stair Rail & Handrail Requirements
  • General Requirements for Stairways

Target Audience

  • Employee

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Stairways and ladders are a major source of injuries and fatalities among workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2012), 14 percent of all work-related deaths are due to falls, with 20 percent of these deaths being related to the use of ladders. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates there are more than 24,000 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. Nearly half of these fall-related injuries are serious enough to require time off the job. These statistics are a sobering reminder of the dangers faced when work on or around ladders and stairways. More importantly, most, if not all, of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented.


The Ladder Standard

Let’s take a look at the standard. OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926.1053 was written for the construction industry, but the standard should be applied to all ladder use, regardless of the industry. Here are some of the general requirements of the standard that apply to all ladders, regardless of type:

  • Maintain ladders free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards.
  • Do not load ladders beyond their maximum intended load nor beyond their manufacturer's rated capacity.
  • Use ladders only for their designed purpose.
  • Use ladders only on stable and level surfaces unless secured to prevent accidental movement.
  • Do not use ladders on slippery surfaces unless secured or provided with slip-resistant feet to prevent accidental movement. Do not use slip-resistant feet as a substitute for exercising care when placing, lashing or holding a ladder upon slippery surfaces.
  • Secure ladders placed in areas such as passageways, doorways or driveways, or where they can be displaced by workplace activities or traffic to prevent accidental movement. Or use a barricade to keep traffic or activity away from the ladder.
  • Keep areas clear around the top and bottom of ladders.
  • Do not move, shift or extend ladders while in use.
  • Use ladders equipped with nonconductive side rails if the worker or the ladder could contact exposed energized electrical equipment.
  • Face the ladder when moving up or down.
  • Use at least one hand to grasp the ladder when climbing.
  • Do not carry objects or loads that could cause loss of balance and falling. When there are more than two points of access between levels, at least one point of access must be kept clear.

All stairway and ladder fall protection systems required by these rules must be installed and all duties required by the stairway and ladder rules must be performed before employees begin work that requires them to use stairways or ladders and their respective fall protection systems.

Here is the Full OSHA Standard for Ladders and Stairways

This course is designed to provide both employers and employees with the knowledge needed to work safely on stairways and ladders.


To begin your training, click on the module links below. If you are just starting this course, you should start with module 1.

  1. Types of Ladders
  2. General Requirements: Ladders
  3. General Requirements: Stairways

Course 603 Final Exam

OSHAcademy course final exams are designed to help ensure students demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the content covered within each course. To help demonstrate this understanding, students must achieve a minimum score of 70% on final exams. It is OSHAcademy's policy to protect the integrity of our exams and, as a result, we do not provide missed questions to students.

After you have studied all of the course material and taken the module quizzes, you can take the final exam. The module quizzes are optional, but we highly recommend you take each quiz, as the questions are similar to those on the final exam.

This is an open book exam. As you are taking the exam, if you find a question you are unsure of, you should use the course study guide or course web pages to research the correct answer. Don't worry if you fail the exam. You can study and retake the exam when you are ready.

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Take the Final Exam

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Course 603 Study Guide. You can save this study guide to your computer for offline studying, or print the study guide if you prefer.


cleat — a ladder crosspiece of rectangular cross section placed on edge upon which a person may step while ascending or descending a ladder.

double-cleat ladder — a ladder with a center rail to allow simultaneous two-way traffic for employees ascending or descending.

failure — Load refusal, breakage or separation of components.

fixed ladder — a ladder that cannot be readily moved or carried because it is an integral part of a building or structure.

handrail — a rail used to provide employees with a handhold for support.

job-made ladder — a ladder that is fabricated by employees, typically at the construction site; non-commercially manufactured.

load refusal — the point where the structural members lose their ability to carry the load.

point of access — all areas used by employees for work-related passage from one area or level to another.

portable ladder — a ladder that can be readily moved or carried.

riser height — the vertical distance from the top of a tread or platform/landing to the top of the next higher tread or platform/landing.

side-step fixed ladder — a fixed ladder that requires a person to get off at the top to step to the side of the ladder side rails to reach the landing.

single-cleat ladder — a ladder consisting of a pair of side rails connected together by cleats, rungs or steps.

stair rail system — a vertical barrier erected along the unprotected sides and edges of a stairway to prevent employees from falling to lower levels.

temporary service stairway — a stairway where permanent treads and/or landings are to be filled in at a later date.

tread depth — the horizontal distance from front to back of a tread, excluding nosing, if any.