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#191041 - 12/16/09 11:29 AM AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work?
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
I was talking to a man last night, and he told me how he had stood atop a 12-ft. ladder to repair a light. This led to a discussion of ladders in general, as well as other ways to reach high places.

The first issue that arises is that, once you pass the 12 ft. mark, ladders become two-sided 'mechanics" ladders. The have a larger footprint, weigh twice as much, cost twice as much, and become incredibly difficult to handle.

I recalled that Little Giant has a "skyscraper" telescoping ladder that will get you to a 21 ft. ladder height (working height around 24 ft.) This ladder, alas, is only made in aluminum.

How else to get 'up there?' Scaffolding? Scissor lift? Boom lift? All can work, but .... none of them have the insulating properties of fiberglass.

So, we have to ask: Why is a 20 ft. aluminum ladder forbidden, but a 20 ft. steel scaffold if OK?

Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools
#191044 - 12/16/09 12:38 PM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
HotLine1 Offline


Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6831
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Would not part of the concern be IF whatever is being 'worked' on is 'live'?

A defensive comment on using an alum. ladder was 'all I'm doing is pulling cable'!

FWIW, all the ladders I owned were 'glass. Yes, we also worked off of 'baker scaffolds', pipe scaffolds, scissor lifts, snorkel booms. My bucket truck was insulated and tested as required, even though we did no line work, only lighting.


#191064 - 12/16/09 10:49 PM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: HotLine1]
njelectricmaster Offline

Registered: 04/29/01
Posts: 110
Loc: Lead, South Dakota
Hello from Washington!!!

Just my oppinion..... The NFPA 70E requires that you make the circuit you are working on electrically safe. If you have followed all the rules, the only issue is that the ladder is rated for the weight of the user, and safe for the application. There is no reason to work it hot..Lock out and tag out!

Jon Niemeyer

#191476 - 12/30/09 01:10 PM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: njelectricmaster]
greatlakesenv Offline
New Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Fiberglass is encouraged in cases ever dealing with electricity (even wood ladders can be a conductor sometimes).

Follow hierarchy of safety to determine steps:
1) Eliminate risk/hazard (turn off all power, lockout)
2) Substitute (higher risks with lower risks)
3) Engineer a solution (reinvent ways to control electrical energy)
4) Awareness (reveal all sources of energy)
5) Administrative controls/communication
6) PPE


#191484 - 12/30/09 06:43 PM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: greatlakesenv]
leland Offline

Registered: 08/20/07
Posts: 856
Loc: Lowell area, Ma. USA
All great ideas.


K, now it has to get done, TODAY!!!!

Lets be honest. i was on a 24' yesterday in the snow,AL ladder.
stupid yes. but... Reality kicks in once and a while.
1 neutral and 1 hot-with a sw,hot from a control device.Had to find it.
checked with my wiggies-Hot- stepped away. now i can address the issue.

This was safer than climbing onto the roof to do so.

Risk analysis. That's what it boils down to.
POWER OFF- and from the 40' AL ladder.
In 15 deg F temps, with a breeze!! I see the Environment as a bigger danger.

#191631 - 01/05/10 04:06 PM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: leland]
mikesh Offline

Registered: 06/07/06
Posts: 614
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
The last company I worked for had a 14 and a 16 foot wooden ladder and a local theater has a 16 foot a frame with a 10 foot verticle extention all made of wood. They were all custom builds. A local jail has a 3 tier wood extension ladder too and I have a great stoy to tell about using that puppy but not in print ;-)

From a construction perspective I can't see how it matters as long as there are no live wire involved.

#191636 - 01/05/10 05:06 PM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: mikesh]
Trumpy Offline


Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8552
Loc: SI,New Zealand
I have been up extension ladders made of aluminium before today, testing live wires.
I was wearing insulated gloves and outers every time and also made sure there was no bare skin exposed that could have contacted (or been contacted by) the conductors.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not insinuating we should all go out and buy up gloves and outers and start using metal ladders again.

What I am saying is though, is that if you have to work with this sort of gear, you HAVE to minimise the inherent risk to your own (and others) safety.

Edited by Trumpy (01/05/10 05:07 PM)
Edit Reason: Typo
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#192531 - 02/16/10 07:48 PM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: Trumpy]
Rewire Offline

Registered: 02/23/08
Posts: 167
Loc: Missouri
Duty rating is something that also gets overlooked I weigh 275 LB without tools.

#194934 - 07/01/10 03:45 AM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: Rewire]
Tesla Offline

Registered: 06/16/04
Posts: 1280
Loc: Sacramento, CA
IF I have to work on a Baker/Perry...

AND it MIGHT be hot...

I make sure that the scaffold is on rubber - at the base.

But, generally, anything is quasi-safe IF un-energized.

Just another reason that causes me to work COLD virtually all of the time.

I only work hot when pulling voltage and amps -- on my Fluke.


You NEVER see a carpenter inviting others to walk upon UNCOMPLETED framing...

So why in hell are electricians expected to flip on uncompleted, un-tested, un-ready work?

I even have to fight my own crews over this. They look upon their OWN completed work without regard to the overall status of the project.

As for me: I see no need to heat up a given panel to show that the feeder is okay. Nor to heat up a branch circuit to show that j-man x did a fine job.

I only want to heat up all of the branches after the errors are corrected.

'Nuff said.


#194959 - 07/02/10 10:53 AM Re: AreMetal Ladders Ever OK For Electrical Work? [Re: Tesla]
sparkyinak Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1308
Loc: Alaska
OSHA requires the use of non conductive ladders and the makers of the little giant ladder does or did make one out of fiberglass but it is expensive and heavy
"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa

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