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Portable Ladders (Mobile Ladder Stand, Mobile Ladder Platform)

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Prevention/Ergonomic Guidance for Stakeholders Regarding Use of Ladders in Industrial Workplaces

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Portable Ladders (Mobile Ladder Stand, Mobile Ladder Platform)

Section 73 of Regulation 851 (Industrial Establishments) made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act prescribes the required features and use of portable ladders in the context of an industrial workplace. Non-compliance with Section 73 may create a hazard for the worker. Requirements for the instruction/training of workers, maintenance of equipment, and the use of personal, protective equipment, such as fall arrest, may also apply in specific circumstances. In addition to legal requirements relating to the features and use of ladders, workplace parties should also consider safe practices, such as: the correct choice of ladder in specific circumstances, how to set it up, its weight capacity, and environmental conditions in which the ladder is being used in the workplace.

Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention/ergonomic safe practices should be considered while:


  • Use handrails, if specified by manufacturer (e.g., for a grade over 50°, manufacturer may recommend holding handrails)
  • Face proper direction for climb/descent according to manufacturer (e.g., for a grade over 50°, manufacturer may specify facing the ladder when descending)
  • Carry only objects (if allowable, as per manufacturer) that do not impair ability to climb/descend and maintain balance, and do not block field of view

Receiving/Placing/Removing Objects

Range of movement

  • Keep hands above knee level when reaching down to grasp objects
  • Keep belt buckle (i.e., navel) within centre of ladder when reaching sideways (belt buckle stays within outer edges of side rails)
  • Avoid leaning backward while moving objects (i.e., when size of object interferes with its movement across the ladder)
  • Avoiding rising up on toes when reaching above to place object

Standing posture

  • Keep both feet on the ladder

Characteristics of object

  • Lift object with one hand (less than 9 kg, male; 6 kg, female)
  • Lift object with two hands:
  Male lifting object lighter than: Female lifting object lighter than:
Below shoulder height 21 kg 12 kg
Above shoulder height 16 kg 8 kg


  • (Mobile ladder stand) Be readily able to achieve three-point contact (two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder)
  • (Mobile ladder stand and platform) Do not overreach beyond ladder rail (i.e., with noticeable back flexion and arms fully extended)
  • (Mobile ladder stand and platform) Avoid forceful or jerky pushing/pulling movements where there is the potential for an unexpected reaction

For further information on ladder safety, contact your health and safety association

ISBN: 978-1-4435-6000-9 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-4435-6001-6 (HTML)