Does Your Ladder Need to be Replaced?
We tend to think of ladders of all types as a one-off buy, something that should last a lifetime, especially in a domestic situation. If you’re a homeowner who uses a ladder now and again for DIY and other jobs around the house, you may be surprised to learn that there are stringent health and safety rules governing ladders that are used in the workplace. These rules are designed to reduce the number of falls from height, the type of accident that is still the major cause of death and serious injury in the workplace here in the UK. When it comes to ladders for domestic use, it’s up to the owner/user to determine how safe a ladder is and when to replace it. Here’s some advice for householders wondering whether or not to replace a ladder or stepladder that has been purchased for home use.
How old is your ladder? If it’s less than a couple of years old, then it’s probably fine, though you should inspect it carefully for signs of damage or wear and tear each time you use the ladder. If the ladder has been “inherited” (for instance if it was in your home or garage when you moved in, or if it’s been donated by a relative) you really should discard the ladder and buy a new one.
How much has the ladder been used? If the ladder is used infrequently for the odd job around the house, it’s probably fine, but if it’s been regularly used, you may need to replace it. Any ladder that’s been used regularly for home décor may feature plenty of paint stains (which can hide the signs of damage or wear on a ladder).
Has the ladder ever fallen, or slid down a wall onto the ground? If so, the structural Integrity of the ladder may be compromised. This is particularly the case with metal ladders as it’s easy for rungs to work loose when subjected to a fall of this kind. There may be damage caused by other activity, such as knocks and bumps, or even leaning something heavy against the ladder where it is stored.
Inspect your ladder thoroughly. You should check you ladder for damage each time you use it. However, a thorough inspection should be carried out (especially on ladders that are usually stored and don’t get much use). Look out for the following problems:
- Rubber non-slip feet missing or worn down
- Rungs or steps that are loose (give them a shake with your hand)
- Loose screws or other fixings
- Check that the locking mechanism on a stepladder is functioning correctly and is not damaged
- Bent rungs or stiles
- Cracks, abrasions, paint-covered areas.
If you spot any sign of damage (unless it’s really superficial), then it’s time to replace your ladder. Don’t delay on this issue as you’re risking the safety of yourself and others by using a ladder that has seen better days.