Ladders and Platforms

When you need to gain access to an area that is otherwise out of reach, ladders are the most versatile type of access equipment. Whenever using a ladder your number one priority must always be to ensure that your equipment is set up safely, and used in the correct way. When buying a ladder, check that your choice meets national and state safety standards. Find out the maximum load that it can support. Ladders should be stored horizontally and out of reach of children and potential burglars. You’ll find information about other types of access equipment, including scaffolding, in this article.


The vast majority of modern ladders are made from lightweight metals such as aluminium, however it is still possible to buy more traditional wooden designs. Discussed here are the modern ladder types, but there are many variations on all these designs. Unlike other ladders, stepladders can stand alone and do not need to be rested on a surface. There are also many types of accessories for use with ladders, such as ladder stays that hold the top of a ladder away from a wall surface, or tool trays that clip onto ladder rungs.


A sturdy stepladder is an essential piece of household equipment because of its versatility and portability. Make sure you open fully for safe use, and never stand on the top platform or step.

Combination Ladders

These can be used as either a stepladder or as a conventional ladder, depending on how it is set up. Designs vary considerably. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully when setting up the ladder.

Extension Ladders

Extension ladders have two or three sections. For storage and moving, the sections are retracted. Brackets attached to each ladder section allow sections to slide over each other up into an extended position. Cleats fixed at the lower level of the upper section secure the ladder in an extended position for reaching higher areas.

Foldaway Ladders

The stiles of the “telescopic” ladder collapse into the ones below. Other foldaway ladders fold down into a very small, compact area. Whatever the particular design, the aim is to produce a ladder that is space-saving when stored. These can be a fantastic addition to a standard stepladder for performing lots of home maintenance and home improvement projects.

Platform Ladders and Trestles

The advantage that a work platform has over a ladder is that it leaves your arms free to Work. Various designs are available, and they are all designed to provide a stable and level raised surface.

Ladder Safety Tips

  • Never use a ladder near overhead electrical cables or equipment.
  • Never use a ladder in front of a doorway unless someone else guards it.
  • When positioning a ladder against a wall, make sure that the height of the top of the ladder is four times the distance between the wall and the ladder’s base. Many ladders have an angle guide printed on the side to help with this.
  • Inspect a ladder thoroughly before use, to ensure that there are no cracks or breaks. Check a wooden ladder for rot, and a metal ladder for corrosion. Never paint a ladder: paint may hide any damage to the structure.
  • Check ladder feet. A metal ladder should have rubber slip-resistant feet.
  • Check that the ladder is sturdy enough to support your weight.
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