White Page on the Safety of Three-Point Control

Experts Agree: Horizontal Grab Features Help To Prevent Falls From Ladders

Falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for those who work with ladders, whether they work in construction, manufacturing or any other industry where height can be an occupational hazard. As a result, significant research has been done on the subject of ladder safety and specifically on the topic of vertical versus horizontal handholds. Researchers and workplace experts – including those from OSHA itself – agree that the benefits of adding horizontal grab features to ladders and around hatches far outweigh the costs.


Research has shown that we use ladders and hatches in one of two ways. The first is known as three-point contact, in which we seek out three points of support without specified body parts connecting to specified ladder or hatch features. An example of this is a user holding onto vertical components of a ladder rather than the rungs. The result is very little stability and almost certain sliding in the event of a fall.



Three-point control gives the user stability thanks to three horizontal points of contact. On a ladder, this can be accomplished using horizontal rungs, providing what experts call a “power grip” (Barnett & Poczynok, 2000). A power grip has a 75% to 94% larger breakaway force than when gripping a vertical rail (Young, Wooley, Ashton-Miller, et al., 2012). This becomes particularly important on the step-through portion at the top of a fixed ladder or roof hatch. Here, more specialized solutions are required:

GrabSafe® increases stability by providing horizontal grab bars to the step-through portion of your fixed ladder. Large grab rungs provide three-point control even with gloved hands.





HatchGrip® provides ladder extensions that extend beyond the hatch. These horizontal rungs off three-point control when exiting and entering a roof hatch.





Contact PS Access Solutions to give your workers improved safety when using ladders and roof hatches.

SOURCES: Barnett, R.L. & Poczynok, P.J. (2000). Ladder rung vs. siderail hand grip strategies. Triodyne Safety Brief, 16(4), 1-15; Young, J.G., Woolley, C.B. & Armstrong, T.J. (2012). Effect of handhold orientation, size and wearing gloves on the ability to hang on. Presentation at the International Conference on Fall Protection and Prevention, Morgantown, WV, USA.
OSHA regulations: 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M (1926.500-503 and appendices); 29 CFR 1926 Subpart X (1926.1050-1053 and appendices); 29 CFR 1926 Subpart L (1926.450-454 and appendices)