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Carrying shingles up the ladder could be your next OSHA Fine

Posted by Mark Paskell on Tue, May 20, 2014 @ 07:12 PM

A Mass contractor was fined for allowing his men to carry heavy objects up a ladder to a roof. In OSHA Subpart X, Ladders it says in section 1926.1053(b)(22) 

"An employee shall not carry any object or load that could cause the employee to lose balance and fall."   

A contractor from Lee, Mass was cited and fined for allowing his workers to carry up a roll of ice/water shield. One would have to assume that a roll of roof paper, a bundle of shingles or a sheet of plywood would also result in a citation and fine.

In our fall protection training this subject spurs a lot of debate.

"OSHA Citation 1 Item 4 b Type of Violation: Serious 
29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(22): Employees using ladders were carrying objects or loads that could cause the employee to lose balance and fall: Location: 57 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA: On or about November 14,2013, employees carnying boxes of Grace Ice & Water Shield while ascending an extension ladder to a scaffold platform more than 17 feet above ground level were exposed to fall hazards while carrying the roofing material."unsafe load going up a ladder                          Some feel that this description is vague and hard to quantify. The question is what object size or weight is considered unsafe?


In the picture this would be considered unsafe. Also this contractor's ladder is not set 3 feet above the roof edge, another OSHA violation.


In a letter of interpretation from 1992 OSHA responded to a letter from a Texas roofer and replied that materials should be hoisted with a hand line.

Here is OSHA's response to Randy Hooks form Lubbock, Texas on 4/2/1992.

"Although OSHA believes that small items such as hammers, pliers, measuring tapes, nails, paint brushes, and similar items should be carried in pouches, holsters, or belt loops, the language in the final rule would not preclude an employee from carrying such items while climbing a ladder so long as the items don't impede the employee's ability to maintain full control while climbing or descending the ladder. It is OSHA's belief that the employee's focus and attention while climbing up and/or down a ladder should be on making a safe ascent or descent and not on transporting items up and down the ladder. OSHA notes that an employee who needs to take a large or heavy object to a different level by means of a ladder can pull the object up or lower it with a handline."

Given the current OSHA enforcement on fall protection in the residential construction industry it makes perfect sense to mechanically hoist materials to upper work levels such as roofs or second floors.

Material Hoists

Today it is much easier to have materials hoisted to the roof or upper levels. Suppliers have boom lifts and lulls that can reach high levels. Another solution is using material hoists like the ones shown below.

Roofing Material Hoist

Solar Panel Hoist

Must use fall protection when unloading at hoist areas

When receiving a material load in a window or door OSHA says the person unloading must be tied off with a positioning device that will not let the person fall past the opening.

When receviing materials on the roof the person must also be tied off to an anchor point.

Another word of caution is one cannot use the material hoist as a ladder. 

Tags: fall protection