How to Drive Your Ladder Safely

How to Drive Your Ladder Safely

18th December 2014

Many small to medium businesses here in the UK use ladders on a daily basis (window cleaners, painter and decorators, small building companies, etc.) and most of those will have to carry their ladders with them.  These are usually transported on the roof of a van or car and will need to be effectively secured for every journey made.  If you use ladders regularly and have to take them with you to the jobs you do, then transporting them safely should be a critical part of your health and safety policy.  Ladders can lead to accidents, not just when they’re being used for access, but also when they’re being taken from place to place.  The more they are moved around, the more opportunities there are for an accident to happen.

The safest way to transport your ladders round on the roof of a car or van is with a specialised roof rack designed specifically for that purpose.  These can be expensive and may not be suitable for your vehicles.  Another option is to purchase ladder clamps that can be used in conjunction with a roof rack.  Whichever you choose, you’ll have the advantage that you won’t have to worry about your ladders slipping and falling off and you won’t need to rope the ladders securely every time you take them from one location to another. 

There is also the added security as your ladders will be locked in place securely which is a deterrent to thieves.  Although both of these options may seem an unnecessary expense that you could do without in these economically challenging times, it’s an investment not only in your business, but in your safety and that of others around you.

When transporting an extension ladder, it’s vital that you collapse it and ensure that the ladder doesn’t extend more than the length of your vehicle.  Most people who need to transport extension ladders on a regular basis will need a van to do so.  A protruding ladder is illegal – it is a danger to other road users, especially in a collision.

Step ladders are easier to transport as they are generally shorter and can be transported inside a van and sometimes inside a car if the back seats are lowered.  However, any ladder inside a vehicle should be secured firmly - it can shoot forward during sudden braking, injuring drivers, passengers and even other road users if it goes through the windscreen. 

Collapsible ladders, also known as surveyors’ ladders, are the easiest to transport as they fold into such a small space.   However, this convenience and flexibility shouldn’t lead you to be complacent – if it’s in the car or van with you, it should be securely tied down so that it cannot shift around.  These types of ladders are still heavy enough to cause considerable damage during a collision or in a sudden braking situation.

Whatever type of ladder you need to transport, make sure your vehicle is large enough to do so.  We see too many accidents involving ladders in the home and work place, let’s make sure that they don‘t cause accidents on our roads and highways as well.