In response to the new ladder standards EN 131-1 and 2, Zarges has provided tips on the right approach to ladder safety

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According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), each year approximately 622,000 work-related accidents are reported each year. A large proportion of these unfortunately involve ladders. The European Committee for Standardisation therefore recently published the standards EN 131-1 and 2. The guidelines describe new design and test requirements. As of January 2018, ladders used in commercial operations must fulfil all criteria for structural stability and load capacity.

As these new regulations and guidelines are released, companies must understand how the changes will affect them. In the context of the standards EN 131-1 and 2, this can be summarised as follows: the new standard will include a “Professional” category that will replace BS 2037 Class 1, the current standard for industrial and heavy-duty ladders. In addition all leaning ladders that are three metres or longer will have to be equipped with a base stabiliser to ensure stability. Along with stricter test requirements in terms of stile strength and slip-resistance, EN 131-2 also sets out additional regulations for mechanical durability tests and torsion tests. Other guidelines concern the use of combination ladders as well as the categorisation of access systems. The new regulations will take effect as of 1 January 2018 in the UK and throughout Europe and will affect companies of all industries and sizes.

For recent updates on EN131 Standards we have a newly written guide: Are you puzzled by EN131?

Top tips on the right approach to ladders according to EN 131-1 and 2

  • Regularly inspect ladders: it is recommended that ladders that are subject to frequent use should be inspected at least once every three months

  • Take note of the inspector's qualification: An inspection is considered legally compliant only when it is performed by a certified in-house safety officer or a trained employee of a specialist company

  • Perform retrofitting: Access systems can be retrofitted to comply with regulations. For example, a base stabiliser can be added to a leaning ladder in accordance with EN 131-1

  • Safety first: In addition to annual inspections, companies should always keep an eye on the safety of their ladders and access systems.

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