In recent months, it has been reported that there has been a huge number of ladders sold to consumers which claimed to be compliant with British and European Standards when in reality they did not meet these requirements. Poorly constructed, unregulated access equipment, including the ladders described above, carry a huge number of risks compromising the health and safety of those that use them.
Many reputable wholesalers and suppliers have been led to believe that the ladders and step ladders that they are buying and selling on comply with relevant standards and are therefore safe and fit for purpose when they do in fact not.
The Ladder Association who are the governing body representing leading manufacturer, suppliers and ladder training companies in the UK are warning that these counterfeit products could be extremely dangerous and are calling for consumers to be extra vigilant when making purchases. They recommend that upon purchasing, a consumer should ask the manufacturer importer for a certificate of compliance from an accredited, independent third party test organisation. If they fail to do so then they should not be offered for sale or purchase.
With this in mind, we offer the following advice when buying your next ladder or piece of access equipment.
Research. Research. Research.
What does the product look like? Does it have any unique features? Having this knowledge will allow you to check that the product you are buying has the same features. You may also be able to find images of a fake product and how it might differ.
Does it comply with EU/UK standards?
All ladders manufactured and supplied within the United Kingdom and the European Union should be manufactured to specified standards and correctly classified. You should find details of this when looking at the specification and details of any product. These requirements apply to all portable ladder types, specialist single use ladders, and fixed access ladders. The three main classifications of ladder you’ll see are Class 1, Class EN131 and Class III. The former is of the highest strength and quality, and suited to heavy-duty work, while the latter is only suitable for occasional domestic tasks. Class EN131 is the classification usually given to ladders suited to light trade work or heavy-duty DIY work.
Stick to who you know
While it can be tempting to shop around to look for the cheapest online store, it pays to choose a professional supplier. Buy from a store that specialises in access equipment and thrives upon its good reputation like Ladderstore A trader should also have a returns policy or guarantee. Most rogue traders will not offer this. Checking out customer reviews is also another great way to check out a store’s reliability.
It’s also a good idea to buy on credit card. This means that should you receive a product that you’re not entirely happy with, you’ll receive the best protection compared with other payment methods. With a credit card you can dispute a charge if you purchase misrepresented, or fake merchandise.