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Ship's ladders to tech areas

Discussion in 'Safety' started by EWCguy, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. EWCguy

    EWCguy Member

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    Our catwalk and spotlight booths are accessed by ship's ladders. Some of the ladder runs terminate shortly after emerging through the floor of the next level up and the ladders end having stiles that extend up past the last rung. Then, there are the ones that terminate in front of a door or opening - these all have a "loop" at the top as seen here.
    shipLadder.jpg These loops make me crazy. First, they are spaced the same as the ladder width - about 18". Most folks have to twist sideways to finish climbing. And, when climbing through them, you have to be careful you don't bash your shoulders or elbows on them.

    It is my thought that they were designed backwards -- that the loop ought to extend into the door opening, but that upon install, someone came upon this situation where the door wouldn't be able to close if the loops were facing that way, so they flipped them away from the door.

    I've asked some folks who were here when the building was built (1982) and they say the loops are there because of OSHA -- I question this factual knowledge, hence the post! I really don't understand the purpose of the loops and they just annoy me and anyone else who climbs the ladders. Seems more of a safety hazard than a protection.

    Can anyone set me straight or otherwise justify the current design?
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Those are not ship ladders, this is a ship ladder:
    [​IMG]


    What you have is just a standard industrial ladder, so if your looking for code that is a start. I don't ever like doors at the top of ladders, way to many places for things to go wrong... but... there ya go.

    And yes, the loops should extend into the area you are heading into, not hanging out like they are. Idea being that they allow railings and somewhere to start your climb from.
     
  3. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    I have three ladders like the one you post, none of them have those loops or anything like them. My facility was built within the last two years.
     
  4. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I would not call that a ships ladder, but rather an "alternating tread device", as it is in codes. Not dissimilar but a ships ladder has treads completely across the ladder. Here: Ships Ladders | Professional Climbing Equipment
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    You're correct EWC in your supposition - that is a fixed walk through ladder and they installed it wrong. Some examples here Fixed Steel Ladders, Vertical Climbing Access

    Side transfer is typically the other option. I would have designed this with a landing, usually simple but just insetting the door 3 or 4' so you can walk through, the sides are guarded, and then open the door. Having to mess with door hardware while on a ladder is not a good idea.
     
  6. StradivariusBone

    StradivariusBone Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    We have 6 PAC's in our county that all stem from the same basic blueprint, 3 built in 1995 (of which I work at one) and 3 that have been built within the past decade with slight modifications made based on the issues that cropped up with the older design. One of the changes made was to install a ladder to our tech area like the one EWC has to replace the steel spiral staircase in the older theatres which was explained as a change in the OSHA requirement making spiral stair cases unsafe. I don't know if that's actually true or if it was a cost-saving measure. I do know the TD's at those venues curse them every time they have to climb up.

    I can see how you could trip and fall over the edge of the spiral, but a ladder going up 20' with no cage is not an improvement in my mind.

    Is the door a fire door? I'm guessing code would prohibit propping/removing it?
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  7. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Code requires control rooms to be accessible to people in wheel chairs so we're already beyond code. And the pipe behind the ladder probably makes it not OSHA compliant - 7" center of rung clear behind ladder.

    I agree Strad - the spiral is much safer than the ladder. They are even allowed by the building and fire code for the primary means of egress from a limited occupancy area like a control room and ladders are not. Its just usually by the time the control room is accessible to people with disabilities, fitting in a regular stair is no issue at all.
     
  8. StradivariusBone

    StradivariusBone Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    The space is there for the stairs, there is a stairwell at the FOH that leads to the lobby, but during a show (and most of the time in the space) it makes more sense to use the access ladders since they're closest to the stage and workshop areas. The old spaces have wheelchair lifts to the back of the grand tier (one story below the tech area) that run along the hand rail (and don't work) so the new spaces were supposed to install elevators that would have a keyed switch to take it to the booth level, but again $$$ got in the way.

    I'm not looking forward to the day when we have a disabled student who can't run lights or sound because of that.

    </hijack> Sorry @EWCguy!!
     
  9. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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  10. tjrobb

    tjrobb Active Member

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    If the space is under 300sf and elevated more than 7" for reasons related to the operation of the room or building it is not required to be accessible. If your room is small enough you may be in the clear.
     
  11. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Sorry. Explained this before here but the 300 sf exception doesn't apply. ADA is based on discrimination. Because someone's disability does not permit them to climb a ladder or stair, does not mean they can't run a console.

    Besides, building and fire codes do not permit a ladder as the only means of egress from a control room.
     
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  12. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    (Reposted reply from another thread)

    I'm guessing you are referring to this from the 2009 ADA Architectural Guidelines:

    203.9 Employee Work Areas. Spaces and elements within employee work areas shall only be required
    to comply with 206.2.8, 207.1, and 215.3 and shall be designed and constructed so that individuals with
    disabilities can approach, enter, and exit the employee work area. Employee work areas, or portions of
    employee work areas, other than raised courtroom stations, that are less than 300 square feet (28 m2)
    and elevated 7 inches (180 mm) or more above the finish floor or ground where the elevation is essential
    to the function of the space shall not be required to comply with these requirements or to be on an
    accessible route.
    The same exception is also in the 2006 IBC.

    It's true where this is only an employee work area, such as a professional theatre. I would not call this open to the public but you might, and it is not a factor in any case. Regardless, in a school where students are allowed in the control room, this does not apply. Also, this is not permission to discriminate against an individual with a disability. If you did not hire someone as, say, a board op, because they could not get into the control room, I wager you would lose in court, but anything can happen in court.

    There is a general problem with trying to use one line of a code or standard without the context of entire document, let alone even the rest of the paragraph.
     
  13. EWCguy

    EWCguy Member

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    Tom, thank you for this, in particular.

    Maybe my ladders are more "submarine" style ;) - but, point taken. Thanks, also, Bill and Kyle, for the links with the perfect pictures.

    Ok, armed with OSHA guidelines, I'll approach the naysayers and see if I can get some re-engineering done. You people are great!
     
  14. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    That pipe that passes under the door and then takes a turn upward, is that attached to the ladder rail?

    in my mind the pipe fitter should have taken that pipe to the left then up so it did not obstruct the footing clearance behind the ladder.
     
  15. EWCguy

    EWCguy Member

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    That pipe is part of the fire suppression system, I'm sure. I've got a similar one in another area running behind the ladder there, too. You're seeing the wall strut holding the pipe -- bad perspective in photo, it is not attached to the ladder. I'm not sure which is better, to have the pipe interrupt the space between rungs or to have it near or directly behind a rung (as it is in other locations). Although poorly engineered, I'm guessing the ladders were added to plans later and no one checked other elements, i.e. the door closing where the "loops" should be.

    I'm glad I don't have to be concerned about how the building was constructed. When the lawsuit comes, someone above my paygrade will have to make some quick decisions.
     
  16. tjrobb

    tjrobb Active Member

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    I missed where this is a school. Apologies. But, good to learn more practical applications.
     
  17. EWCguy

    EWCguy Member

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    And a late follow-up. My physical plant folks say they can't modify these ladders because any such changes would then require that the ladders meet today's codes. Maybe the offending "loops" will *ahem* fall off *ahem* someday.
     
  18. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I suspect it did not meet code when it was built, so still doesn't. The whole grandfathering business assumes it met code originally.

    You could take a dive for the team?
     
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  19. MRW Lights

    MRW Lights Active Member

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    I unfortunately experienced the discrimination of theater access several years ago when I was confined to a wheel chair for nearly a year. It so happened that during that time I was also touring Grad School programs. My discovery of how different spaces were built and how I was treated by the appearance of having a disability ultimately changed my choice of Grad Schools and my outlook on work and safety that I continue to adapt today.

    Most of the time, in a lot of theaters, architects are only focused on minimum code requirements and not necessarily requirements of the workplace. My current theater was designed purely by architects with no "technical" entertainment experience and it is clearly evident and would cost millions to change, but because it passes code those with the money see no need for change...

    While it shouldn't be the case often I've found with inspectors that building code is a lot like the code in a certain pirate movie... they're often taken more as guidelines than actual "code", that is until someone get's hurt or they have more money... then they become steadfast law.
     
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  20. Wheezy

    Wheezy Member

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    That was my first reaction as well. Now, imagine trying to fiddle with the door while carrying replacement lamps, gobos, gels, etc.

    Even worse is that the door opens towards the room with an automatic closing device. Fire codes aside, I can imagine the 'kick' from the door as your attempting to board the ladder.
     
    Ben Stiegler likes this.

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