Posted August 12, 2019

Exclusive: Leaning Stepladders: A New Trend

What has changed to make leaning ladders ok again?

One of the biggest trends in the ladder industry this year has been the introduction of the leaning stepladder, stepladders that are specifically designed to be used in the closed position and leaned against a wall. It’s something that people have been doing forever with their old stepladders. The problem was, their old stepladders weren’t designed to be used in that position.

For years we have taught in ladder safety classes the leaning a stepladder against a wall was against the rules. Some companies even have it written into their safety policy. So, what was the rule and what has changed to allow the new ladders?

The rule is “Ladders shall be used only for the purpose for which they were design.” (OSHA 1926.1053(b)(4)) Stepladders were originally designed to be used only in the open A-frame position. Recently, companies have redesigned their stepladders to be used in the closed leaning position safely. These companies made safe leaning ladders possible by changing three things to the design of the ladder:

  1. Top Cap – a pad has been added to the back of the top cap. Some companies have modified the top caps to also fit on corners, poles or the stud of a framed wall.
  2. Back Legs – the back legs of the ladder need to be locked in the closed position, preventing the back feet from making contact with the ground and causing the ladder to tip or shift.
  3. Feet – the feet have been redesigned with either a curve to maximize surface contact or a swivel foot similar to that of an extension ladder.

This newly designed stepladder was a direct result of listening to the customer and providing a ladder that would allow the user to get to all those hard-to-reach places you couldn’t reach with the ladder open. The new leaning A-frames will be easily identified with a sticker that shows the usable positions.

While the new, safe leaning ladders are a great option for employees across almost any industry, they may cause some confusion for some workers. The biggest tip to remember is that old A-frame stepladders weren’t designed to be leaned. When workers see new ladders being leaned, they will be tempted to use all the A-frame ladders that way. Only ladders with the new design changes should be used in the leaning position.

You should also be aware that if you have prohibited this practice in your company safety policy that it is still the rule. OSHA can fine you, even if you are using one of the new ladders if that’s the way it’s written in your safety policies so you will need to change or modify it.

Contractors are loving the new leaning ladders since they can work more closely to their work, but they also need to take caution to make sure only ladders designed to be leaning ladders are used that way.

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