Ladders and Underground Infrastructure

It’s easy to assume that climbing rungs and ladders are equally good access solutions for your underground infrastructure. After all, they both perform the same task: allowing workers to climb in and out of underground infrastructures. However, ladders are the best way to increase the safety of workers when accessing and egressing underground infrastructures.

Climbing rungs are designed for permanent installation in maintenance holes, reservoirs, pumping stations, mines, underground chambers, and vaults. Climbing rungs are typically pre-installed in new construction sites, like concrete structures or manholes. They’re used in these areas because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and are suitable for both curved and flat surfaces.

A ladder can be permanently installed once the structure has been built. While installing a ladder in your structure may add to the cost, it’s important to consider the cost of the ladder divided over the life of the structure. If a worker will be going in and out of that structure for 50 years, a ladder will greatly increase their safety, and decrease liability risks and workplace injury. Compared to climbing rungs, ladders are a safer choice because they allow for three-point contact: workers have their hands over the side rails, and their feet alternate on the steps when climbing. This means that workers will always have two hands and one foot on the ladder, which increases stability and decreases the risk of falling.

Why Ladders Should Be Installed in Underground Infrastructures

  • Three-point contact increases stability
  • Decreases the risk of workplace injury
  • Decreases liability risks
  • Manufactured to Occupational Health and Safety Act standards

Ladders must be manufactured to meet the Ministry of Labour’s design codes, and comply with the safety demands of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Ladders can be constructed from aluminum and stainless steel, and the choice of material depends upon the site conditions. For example, if the ladder is being installed in an area where there is a high risk of corrosion (i.e. sewage and wastewater sites), stainless steel would be a better choice because of its ability to withstand corrosive environments. The material you choose for your ladder also depends on lifespan of the project. If the project is intended to last a long time, it’s always less costly in the long run to choose the more expensive material, as it won’t corrode over time or need to be replaced.

MSU Mississauga Ltd. manufactures aluminum and stainless-steel ladders that meet Ministry of Labour, Building Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act Guidelines. They offer a wide variety of standard and custom designs to suit every project and application. MSU has been certified by the Canadian Welding Bureau to weld stainless steel and aluminum for over 25 years, and has been accepted into the CWB’s QualityMark program, which notes their commitment to exceptional welding procedures.