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Buying new ladders? Make sure they comply with the updated Standard

If your business is looking to buy a new set of portable ladders (including step ladders, extending ladders and combination ladders), you need to ensure that they comply with the revised BS EN 131 Standard.

The old British Standards BS 2037 and BS 1129 (Class 1 and Class 3 Ladders) are being phased out, and from 31 December 2018, certified ladders from these Standards will no longer be available.

The new updated EN 131 Standard means that all new ladders must:

  • meet amended dimensional changes to improve stability;

  • meet a minimum capacity of 150 kg (whether "domestic" (non-professional) or Trade / Industrial (professional);

  • meet new requirements for ladder durability.

Your existing ladders are not affected if they are in a good condition, as are ladders purchased before the 31 December.

Before buying a ladder, check its label and ask the supplier for a copy of the certificate of compliance with EN 131. Beware, however, that if the ladder contains a CE mark, this is not currently legally possible so do not buy.

Remember that before an employee uses a ladder, the correct ladder for the job should be used, and they should be adequately trained to use it. Risk assessments need to be completed (which may identify other equipment as more suitable), and ladders should only be used for low risk and short term tasks of less than half an hour.

The Ladder Association has produced a useful guide to these changes, which is available from here.