Choosing the Right Ladder for the Job

Choosing the Right Ladder for the Job

10th July 2017

On average more than 1200 people in the UK suffer a serious workplace injury involving a ladder in the UK every year.  Even worse, the average annual fatality figure is 14 and this is 14 too many (especially for those involved and their families).  We probably think that to suffer such a serious injury (or even loss of life) the falls are from quite high up and nothing could be further from the truth.  Most people who are injured when using a ladder fall from a height less than 2 metres – and some from a lot lower down than this.  One person lost their life when they slipped from the second rung of a ladder and fell backwards hitting their head on the floor.

Research shows that there are several main reasons that people fall off ladders and these seem to be:

  • Ladders slipping, either at the top or at the bottom
  • Ladders in poor condition or not being properly maintained
  • The wrong type of ladder chosen for the task at hand
  • The ladder wobbling due to damaged feet or resting the feet on an unsuitable surface
  • Overstretching when using the ladder
  • Lack of secure grip when using the ladder

Choosing the right ladder for the task at hand is not as difficult as you may think. 

Step ladders are characterised by the A frame construction and don’t need to be supported so they are ideal for household jobs such as changing light bulbs or in the garden for trimming low branches from trees.  However, they are generally quite short and are not suitable for jobs that need extra height.  Never be tempted to balance a stepladder on a table or other surface – if you cannot reach then you need to use a different type of ladder.

Extension ladders are straight and always require supporting on a building or wall to ensure safety.  Because the extension ladder can be lengthened, these are ideal for working at height outside a property and can be used for jobs such as cleaning guttering or painting the outside walls of a house. 

Step stools - this is a small, lightweight stool height step ladder.  These are an ideal solution for small, everyday jobs such as reaching the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard or lifting down storage boxes from the top of a wardrobe.   Some of the more expensive step stools will double as a stool or seat, so this really is a versatile addition to any household.

Combination ladders are designed to do a number of jobs and can often be used instead of both a step ladder and an extension ladder.  These combination ladders come in a wide range of designs and are ideal for the DIY enthusiast.  It’s important to check out the types available and choose the right one to suit your needs.  Think carefully about all the jobs you do that require the use of a ladder and make sure that the combination ladder you choose will suit your requirements.