Even though contractors, safety experts, and masons themselves will tell you it's unsafe, climbing cross braces to get up on scaffolds is common. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) never allows this practice. It requires ladders, stairways, or other methods of safe access to scaffolds. To give contractors guidelines for safe ladder and stairway use, OSHA set forth a new standard. Its main provisions are outlined here. STAIRWAY AND LADDER SETUP Wherever there's a change in elevation of 19 inches or more, you must provide a stairway or ladder at every access point, unless there's a ramp or personnel hoist. LADDER HEIGHTS The maximum allowable ladder height depends on the type of ladder and the specific safety equipment provided. LADDER CHOICE Using rented ladders from the scaffold manufacturer has many advantages even though the cost is high. The access equipment is compatible with the scaffold system and complies with OSHA standards. LADDER MAINTENANCE The first worker up a scaffold ladder should check each connection or bolt before climbing higher. Periodically inspect ladders for broken or missing rungs, cleats, or steps; broken or split rails; and corroded components.