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Proper testing of ladders and steps

The ladder is a must-have work tool when it comes to working at a height. Replacing a broken lightbulb, hanging up a picture frame in the office, or fetching a box from the top shelf are all situations where you’ll need a ladder. In many situations in everyday office life we reach for the ladder, often without giving too much thought to its proper use. Yet every careless climb up a ladder poses a certain risk to our safety. When using a ladder, you can be seriously injured if you fall, and objects can also be damaged if a ladder falls over. Therefore, employees in companies must be trained to use a ladder correctly. In addition, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the company's ladders are inspected by a competent person at regular intervals. HAILO has created a quick guide on this process.

When and to what extent must ladders be inspected?

The type and scope of the inspection are specified in the ladder standard DIN EN 131. The inspection intervals must be determined by the employer on the basis of the risk assessment to be drawn up. Depending on how often and to what extent the ladder is used in the company, the inspection must be carried out at different intervals. For example, if a ladder is used very frequently and is exposed to high loads, a daily inspection by a trained employee may be necessary. Furthermore, it is also necessary to document the inspection afterwards and to mark the work equipment with an inspection seal. Defective ladders may no longer be used and must be stored away so that nobody can use it until they have been properly repaired or disposed of.

What should be taken into account when testing ladders?

There are numerous points to consider when properly testing work equipment. To help you conduct a thorough inspection, our checklist will tell you which individual criteria must be checked.

Checklist for testing ladders

General information

  • Inventory number of the ladder
  • Location / department
  • Number of rungs or steps
  • Manufacturer / dealer
  • Article / type number
  • Type of access (single ladder, extension ladder, rope ladder, stepladder, multi-purpose ladder, platform ladder, extension ladder, stepladder, other)
  • Type of access (aluminium, steel, plastic, stainless steel, wood)
  • Date of purchase
  • Name of the competent person

List of parts to be inspected (according to DIN EN 131:3)

  • Tie bars / legs must not be bent, curved, twisted, dented, cracked, corroded or rotten
  • Spars / legs must be in good condition at the fixing points for other parts
  • Fixings (rivets, screws, bolts) must not be missing and must not be loose or corroded
  • Rungs / steps must not be missing, loose, badly worn, corroded or damaged
  • Joints between front and back must not be damaged, loose or corroded
  • Locks must remain in horizontal position, rear rails and corner stiffeners must not be missing and must not be bent, loose corroded or damaged
  • Bar hooks must not be missing, damaged, loose or corroded and must be able to be properly hooked onto the bars
  • Guide brackets must not be missing, damaged, loose or corroded and must engage properly with the stile
  • Ladder feet / foot caps must not be missing and must not be loose, badly worn, corroded or damaged
  • The entire ladder must be free from contamination (e.g. dirt, paint, oil or grease)
  • Locking catches (if any) must not be damaged or corroded and must function properly
  • No parts or fixings of the platform (if any) must be missing and the platform must not be damaged or corroded 

Repairing damaged ladders

If a ladder has minor defects, it should no longer be used. However, it does not normally have to be disposed of straight away. The way forward is to repair professionally! For simple repairs, HAILO offers many spare parts for repairing ladders used privately or at work. For example, lost or defective step ends and ladder feet can be easily replaced.

Safety - rung by rung and step by step

Since the safety of employees in companies should always come first, regular inspection and any necessary repairs are of the utmost importance. If all the points on our checklist are worked through and any problems are rectified, working with the ladder will remain safe and the risk of accidents will be significantly reduced. Depending on the ladder, other checkpoints may be added. It is best to ask the manufacturer of your ladder for an individual checklist. For HAILO products, you will find the checklist in the operating instructions for your ladder.

And if you are to be entrusted as a competent person with the inspection of your operationally used ladders, we will bring you up to date with the latest technology and regulations in our regular training courses. Our seminars can be booked as face-to-face events or online. We look forward to your registration.

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