Telescopic ladders have in recent years been used more and more by businesses, partly because they take up less space in storage. Many work vehicles have them for this very reason.
However a recent study by The Ladder Association, East of England Trading Standards Association, and Suffolk Trading Standards has raised serious concerns about their safety.
It is believed that all telescopic ladders in the UK are imports. Importers have to ensure by law that they are safe. Many of these ladders claim to conform to EN131-6, but the study of 17 different telescopic ladders on sale in the UK, all claiming to meet EN131-6 found that only three met the safety criteria of the standard. In addition, three ladders contained a CE mark, even though ladders never contain such a mark!
With 7,674 hospitalisations on average due to ladder falls each year, and with falls from height remaining the main cause of workplace fatalities in the UK (35 fatalities in the year 2020 - 2021), this research is startling.
The report makes the following recommendations for those buying ladders:
Research before you buy - research the company you are buying from and its location. Some companies are impossible to contact due to their location.
Check product reviews but note where the reviews come from, as they may be fake positives.
Don't decide purely on price
Be wary of online platforms as they often take no responsibility for the products they sell on the platforms.
Check products in store for spelling errors on labels, and quality of product.
Avoid ladders with a CE marking. Ladders can never be CE marked.
Buy ladders from a Ladder Association Member as they have to commit to high standards of safety in order to be a member.
Check your new ladder, its labelling and its manual fully before use
If you think the ladder is unsafe, dangerous or not up to standard do not use it and report it to your Trading Standards team.
For those with existing ladders, it is vital that users know how to set up the ladder and that they check thoroughly that everything is locked into place before use. They should also undergo regular safety inspections, when fully extended. If in doubt, do not use them.
The full report can be accessed free online at https://ladderassociation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Telescopic-Ladder-Surveillance-Survey-Report-Version-1-Revision-0-May-2022.pdf