Duty Ratings On Ladders - The Lowdown

Duty Ratings On Ladders - The Lowdown

29th May 2014

Here in the UK we’re lucky to have a modern approach to health and safety in the workplace and a training system on health and safety at work issues that is fit for the 21st Century.  We’ve probably all been on training courses and workshops that have been designed to ensure that we’re all fully knowledgeable about how to keep ourselves safe from accident and injury whilst we’re working. 

That said, however much training we have on health and safety issues, we all need to take on board that using the correct tool for the job is vitally important when working.  If your work involves ladders, then using the correct ladder for the task at hand is absolutely crucial to reduce the risk of accidents.  However, it’s no use using a ladder that’s not strong enough to take your own weight and the weight of any tools and equipment you’ll be using to complete any given task.  This is where ladder duty ratings come in. 

Ladders and step ladders in the UK are available in three different grades (or classifications) which are determined by their strength and durability.  BS 2037 is the British standard for aluminium ladders which covers ladder classification.  All ladders being used here in Britain should bear a British Kitemark sticker which is required to let users know that the ladder meets the relevant UK productions standards.  The British Kitemark is a certification mark from the British Standards Institution which oversees the production of standards and supply of standard related services here in the UK.  A British Standard is a document which lays out the necessary technical specifications and criteria for the manufacture of tools, equipment and other materials in the UK.

Now on to the three Classes of ladder available here in the UK with some information on each class and what it is suitable for.

  • Class 1 ladders should bear a blue sticker and they are suitable for industrial use.  This means that they are strong and durable enough to stand up to frequent deployment in onerous conditions of use, storage and transport.  Class 1 ladders are rated for use in heavy duty industrial applications and environments and will bear loads up to 95 kg, static or 150 kg loading.
  • Class 2 ladders are deemed suitable for commercial light trade use or heavy duty DIY domestic use.  These ladders should bear a green sticker and have a duty rating of 115 kg.
  • Class 3 ladders are only suitable for light domestic use and should not be used within any commercial or trade environment.  In fact, it’s advised that these ladders should no longer be used, but that prospective purchasers should opt for a Class 2 ladder instead.

Understanding the duty rating of ladders is essential for anybody purchasing or using a ladder nowadays.  After all, ladders are common items of equipment and are used on a daily basis in the UK, whether at home or at work.