How to Measure an Extension Ladder

Measure an extension ladder to determine whether it meets safety standards before considering if it will reach to necessary work heights.

Extension ladder side rack on a fire engineExtension ladder side rack on a fire engine
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established measurement guidelines for extension ladders that consider the distance between rungs and overall extended length based on construction. Other ladder measurements, such as section widths, are marks of construction considered only by manufacturers. Reach working heights safely after measuring all aspects of a work ladder.

Measure all three aspects of ladder length using a tape measure. Measure the length of the closed extension ladder for transporting and storage purposes. Extend the telescopic fly section to the last position supported by the rung locks, and measure the ladder from end to end to figure its extended length. Then measure from the base to the third rung from the top, as that is the highest rung on which a worker can safely stand.

Measure the length of an extension ladder against its duty rating. Heavy-duty and extra-heavy-duty, or type 1 and type 1A, extension ladders can extend up to 60 feet in two sections and up to 72 feet in three-sections. Medium-duty type 2 ladders are safe up to 48 feet in two sections and 60 feet in three sections. Light-duty type 3 ladders are made only in two sections and are safe up to 32 feet.

Measure the distance between rungs. OSHA recommends equal spacing between ladder rungs. The spacing should be 10 to 14 inches.

Measure the width of the base and fly sections. These may be considerations for storage and transporting, but there are no mandates regarding ladder width and safety.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape

About the Author

Jonra Springs began writing in 1989. He writes fiction for children and adults and draws on experiences in education, insurance, construction, aviation mechanics and entertainment to create content for various websites. Springs studied liberal arts and computer science at the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College.