Top tips for choosing the right ladder for the job

When choosing working at height equipment, it might seem like a simple decision, and you may think a ladder is the right option for every job. However, with falls from height the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the UK,

Stephanie Bradley, Product Manager at WernerCo, discusses some of the key things you should think about when choosing the right equipment.

Year on year, working at height fatalities continue to be a cause for concern and one of the leading causes of accidents when working from height is loss of stability. This is often a result of using the wrong ladder that might perhaps be too short or one that is simply unsuitable for the task in hand. Therefore, its imperative that you are choosing the right ladder, which can make all the difference to your own safety and the safety of others around you.

There are a few important factors to consider before purchasing a new ladder or selecting which ladder to use:

Height

When working at height you need to consider both the height you’ll be working at and the ultimate height you will need to reach. Then you’ll need to choose a ladder that will allow you to do this safely.

Overreaching is a common cause of falls and injuries to both yourself and those around you. Therefore, it is always recommended to choose a ladder slightly higher than you might actually think you need in order to avoid stretching to reach the job area, which could result in a risk of a fall or serious injury. A safe working height is based on is 1.75m, which is the average reach height of a person standing on the maximum advised safe climb/standing height. It also goes without saying that you should always follow the instructions on the ladder for safe use.

Applications

The equipment you use should always be rigorously tested to meet safety standards, so that is why you should always make sure you are purchasing a ladder from a reputable manufacturer and from a trustworthy retailer. A cheap ladder that has not gone through the rigorous safety checks is never ‘a good deal’ and it might end up being a very dangerous choice instead.

Ladders should meet the new EN131 standard and if you’re using a ladder for commercial purposes, you must use ladders that have been tested for Professional Use with a load capacity of 150kg.

However, if you are going to use ladders at a private dwelling for non-commercial purposes, you can use ladder certified for Non-Professional Use. It’s always advisable to check with the manufacturer or a reputable merchant or retailer if you’re not sure whether your ladder is fully compliant.

Materials

When it comes to choosing your ladder material matters. There are a few key types of materials to choose from such as aluminium or fibreglass. It is really important to consider the benefits of each material type in terms of its durability, strength, ease of use and suitability for the job.

Aluminium ladders are a great, lightweight solution for transporting and storing around the job site and they have the added benefit that they won’t rust or corrode, making them perfect for working outdoors or around water. They are also extremely durable, meaning if you choose an aluminium ladder you probably won’t have to replace it for a long time.

Fibreglass ladders are also extremely strong and especially robust to ensure the longevity of the product. Ideal for electricians and heating engineers, the ladders have non-conductive stiles, making them safe to use in hazardous conditions or around electricity. However, their durability also makes them a great option to consider for non-electrical work too.

Job suitability

Using the wrong kind can result in a fall or serious injury. The most common type of basic ladders are step ladders and extension ladders. However, there are many other different types available such as swing back, platform, telescopic, fibreglass and combination ladders. Each type of ladder offers specific features and benefits that make them ideal for certain jobs. By understanding the benefits of each ladder, you can make an informed decision on which one is right for the job.

When working on more complex job sites or harder to reach places a more specialist ladder or access solution may be required. Sometimes using a ladder simply isn’t necessary and there is a wide range of flexible and multipurpose work platforms now available that would be better suited to the task at hand, particularly for those just out of reach areas or if you are working on uneven surfaces, around obstacles or in stairwells.

So, whether it’s a basic aluminium stepladder for everyday jobs, a fibreglass ladder for working safely around electricity or work platforms, WernerCo has a solution for all your requirements. Check out its handy guide on choosing the right ladder.

To find out more information on the range of access solutions from WernerCo, visit www.wernerco.com.

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