How Far Must Ladder Rungs Be Spaced? (Expert’s Advice)

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls from ladders account for nearly a third of all fall-related deaths in the workplace. One critical factor that can contribute to ladder accidents is improper rung spacing.

In this article, I will explore How far must ladder rungs be spaced and why following these guidelines is essential to ensure ladder safety. Whether you’re a construction worker, a painter, or a homeowner who needs to access high areas, understanding the correct ladder rung spacing can help you prevent injuries and accidents.

How far must ladder rungs be spaced? everything you should know

How far must ladder rungs be spaced?

According to OSHA standards, rungs, cleats, and steps of portable ladders and fixed ladders should be spaced no less than 10 inches (25 cm) apart and no more than 14 inches (36 cm) apart, measured between the centerlines of the rungs, cleats, and steps. ANSI A14.3-2008 specifies that rung spacing should be exactly 12 inches apart, with the first rung allowed to be up to 14 inches from the floor surface. 

🪜Rung Spacing for Different Types of Ladders

The appropriate rung spacing varies depending on the type of ladder. Here are the guidelines for common ladder types:

Rung Spacing for Different Types of Ladders
  1. Step Ladders: According to ANSI A14.2 and A14.5, the spacing between steps or rungs on a step ladder should be approximately 12 inches (30.5 cm).
  2. Extension Ladders: For extension ladders, OSHA 1926.1053(a)(3)(i) states that the rung spacing should be between 10 to 14 inches (25.4 to 35.6 cm) apart.
  3. Combination Ladders: Combination ladders, which can be used as both step and extension ladders, should follow the respective rung spacing guidelines for each configuration.

🪜Factors Influencing Rung Spacing

Several factors can influence rung spacing, including:

  • Ladder material (wood, metal, or fiberglass)
  • Weight capacity
  • Intended use (general-purpose, heavy-duty, or special-purpose)

Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and relevant regulations for specific information on rung spacing for your ladder.

🪜Measuring and Adjusting Rung Spacing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to measure and adjust rung spacing on your ladder:

  1. Gather tools: You’ll need a tape measure, a level, and a marker or pencil.
  2. Place the ladder on a level surface: Ensure the ladder is stable and secure before measuring.
  3. Measure the distance between rungs: Use the tape measure to measure the distance from the top of one rung to the top of the next rung. Compare the measurement to the appropriate guidelines for your ladder type.
  4. Adjust rung spacing if necessary: If the spacing is incorrect, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the rungs. This may involve repositioning or replacing the rungs.
  5. Ensure the ladder is level: After adjusting the rungs, use the level to check that the ladder is properly aligned after adjusting the rungs.
  6. Mark the correct rung spacing: Use a marker or pencil to indicate the correct spacing on the ladder’s side rails as a reference for future inspections.

🪜Ladder Safety Tips and Best Practices

To maintain ladder safety, follow these best practices:

Ladder Safety Tips and Best Practices
  • Regularly inspect your ladder for damage, wear, and proper rung spacing.
  • Store ladders in a dry, protected area to prevent damage and deterioration.
  • Always use the appropriate ladder for the task and follow the manufacturer’s weight capacity and usage guidelines.
  • Ensure the ladder is stable and level before climbing, and maintain three points of contact (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand) while on the ladder.

Ladder safety is essential in preventing accidents and injuries. You can ensure a safer work environment by understanding the required spacing for ladder rungs and adhering to safety guidelines and regulations. Always prioritize ladder safety and encourage others to do the same.


In conclusion, proper ladder rung spacing ensures safety and stability while using ladders. a simple answer to the question, how far must ladder rungs be spaced? would be, rungs must be placed between 10 to 14 inches apart, measured between the centerlines, with specific spacing varying depending on the ladder type. Adhering to OSHA and ANSI standards is essential to maintain compliance and reduce the risk of accidents.

Always consult the ladder manufacturer’s guidelines and relevant regulations to ensure the correct spacing for your specific ladder. By following these guidelines, ladder users can work confidently and safely, minimizing the potential for falls and injuries, especially when working in high areas.

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