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2. Ladders - Choosing and checking

What to look for

Buying, hiring or borrowing - What to look for:

All ladders should meet the required British or European standards.

Is it strong enough?

New ladders are generally marked according to their safe working load. This classification however, can vary slightly in the values given, and has caused confusion. The variation is due to the different way in which the values for safe working loads are expressed. In the British Standard it is “Duty rating” and have been arrived at by taking into account the general conditions and probably frequency of use for each type. The European Standard uses “Maximum static vertical load”. To help clarify this, we have given both sets of figures. British Standard ladders to either BS 2037 (Aluminium) or BS 1129 (Wood).

European Standard ladders to BS/EN 131 (All types).

Is it long enough?The overall length of a ladder is not the same as its usable length: allow one metre of ladder length above the highest rung you use. Never stand on the top three rungs.

Is it safe enough?

Run this quick check on any ladder you are thinking of buying, hiring or using.

All metal ladders should have slip-resistant rubber or plastic feet.

Damaged ladders need professional repairing - or replacing.

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