Ladders, Steps & Access Equipment

BS EN 131 is now the single British and European product standard covering all types of portable ladders; step, extending and combination, after the revision of BS 2037 and BS 1129.
EN131 improves ladder safety by making ladders wider, stronger, and sturdier.
British Standards BS 2037 and BS 1129, often referred to as Class 1 and Class 3 ladders, are no longer available and are no longer available to purchase ladders to these withdrawn standards. However, while BS2037 and BS1129 have been withdrawn, ladders originally made to these standards prior to their withdrawal may still be used, subject to following user instructions and guidance on safe use.

Any ladder is classed as work equipment and therefore is also covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) Regulations 1998.

PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:

• Suitable for the intended use
• Inspected and maintained in a safe condition to ensure it does not deteriorate. It is recommended that you keep a record of maintenance for high-risk equipment and although there are no legal requirements stating what they should contain below is an example of the sort of information to include:
 information on the type and model of equipment
 any identification mark or number
 its normal location
 the date that the inspection was carried out
 who carried out the inspection
 any faults
 any action taken
 to whom the faults have been reported
 the date when repairs or other necessary action were carried out.
• Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction, and training.
Some work equipment is subject to other health and safety legislation in addition to PUWER. In the case of ladders The Working at Height Regulations 2005 apply.

Work at height means "work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury".
As falls from height are still one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries, when planning working at height consider:
• To avoid work at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so. Where work at height cannot be avoided:
 prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment
 minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated.
 Ensure those working at height are competent to do so and are sufficiently trained and experienced.
 Have an emergency response and recuse plan in place.
Ladders can be a reasonably practicable option for low-risk, short-duration tasks. Although they should not automatically be the first choice. If the task would require staying up a leaning ladder or stepladder for more than 30 minutes at a time, it is recommended to use alternative equipment. A thorough risk assessment conducted by a competent person will determine the best equipment to be used for the hazard and task.
Those working with and using ladders must be competent to do so. Competence can be demonstrated through a combination of training, practical and theoretical knowledge, and experience.
In addition to an inspection and maintenance regime, when working with ladders, pre-use checks must be undertaken.

A pre-use check should be carried out:
• by the person using the ladder
• at the beginning of the working day
• after something has changed, e.g., a ladder has been dropped or moved from a dirty area to a clean area (check the state or condition of the feet)
Pre-use checks should include as a minimum:
• the stiles - ensuring they are not bent or damaged.
• the feet - ensuring they are not missing, worn or damaged the ladder and also checking the ladder feet when moving from soft/dirty ground to a smooth, solid surface to make sure the actual feet are making contact with the ground.
• the rungs - ensuring they are not bent, worn, missing or loose.
• any locking mechanism - ensuring the mechanism works properly, and that any components and fixings are not worn, bent or damaged and ensuring any locking bars are fully engaged.
• the stepladder platform - ensuring that it is not split or buckled.
• the steps or treads on stepladders - ensuring they are not contaminated and there are no loose fixings.
If a ladder is found to have any of the above defects, it should not be used and should be reported to the correct person within the workplace to rectify.

Pre-use checks are in addition to inspections.

For further information and correct use of different types of ladders see:

For the further information and full details of your legal responsibilities:
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
AcoP - L22
The Work at Height Regulations 2005
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Additional Useful Guidance and References: