Step Ladders Information Guide - Frequently Asked Questions

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Step ladders are the most common type of ladder and are used by thousands of people each day for both trade, industrial and DIY. As a step ladder is a simple yet effective piece of equipment, it can be easy to use a step ladder in an unsafe manner without even knowing about the potential risks. Falls from height are still among the leading causes of workplace fatality and injuries with 40 people losing their lives last year. Education is vital to lower these statistics and this guide has been put together to give you some helpful tips and answer some of the most frequently asked questions online. 

Are step ladders safe? 

Step ladders can still be a safe and practical solution when working at height. With this said, it is important that the user is competent and has the relevant skills and knowledge to complete the task in hand. Before using any step ladder it is important to carry out pre-checks to ensure that the ladder is in usable and safe condition before climbing, this means checking the treads, feet, stiles, platform, locking bars and feet for wear, weakness or damages that may compromise the steps.  

Step ladders are a safe and practical solution when working at height for durations of under 30 minutes, when this duration is exceeded, when competing your risk assessment take into account the duration of the task, longer tasks may require other equipment such as podium stepladder with an enclosed platform. 

In short step ladders are safe, when used correctly and by a competent person. Use only for short durations and before taking on any work at height, complete a risk assessment before starting work and consider if working at height can be avoided. 

What are the different types of step ladder? 

There are two main types of step ladder, one of which is the platform step ladder. As the name suggests this type of step ladder comes with a wider platform at the top to allow users to stand on. The second step ladder type is a builders or swingback step ladder, these steps do not have a platform and therefore are typically shorter in length than a platform for easier storage. It is however worth noting that the top of a swingback step ladder must not be stood on. 

Both ladder types come in aluminium and fibreglass dependent on the needs of the user and the environment it is being used in. Aluminum is lightweight and robust however GRP is non-conductive and has a high resistance to UV light for use outdoors, however we would still not suggest storing them outside. 

How tall are step ladders? 

Step ladders are available in a range of sizes and typically start from 3 treads and increase upto 12 treads. On average, this means the working heights of step ladders are suitable for heights between 2.8 and 4.1 m.  

Can step ladders be used as straight ladders? 

This is a common question when discussing step ladders. Some users would like to use step ladders in confined spaces and therefore will fold them up and use them whilst all the ladder is leaning against the wall. This is unsafe and should not be done unless the ladder has been specifically designed for this purpose.  

There are not many on the market that are designed for this use however there are two options available, the Little Giant King Kombo and the Werner Leansafe.  

Can step ladders be repaired? 

Some parts can and some parts cannot be replaced on a step ladder. For example, if you have a wearing foot, in most cases these can be replaced if it is not riveted on the ladder. With other parts such as the stiles or rungs it is likely that the item will have to be replaced. It is also worth bearing in mind that some suppliers will provide spare parts and others do not have them readily available, when choosing a step ladder spare parts may be something to consider and for this reason the Lyte ESP Step Ladder could be an ideal choice. 

Additional step ladder safety tips 

  • Complete a risk assessment and try to avoid work at height when possible 
  • Before climbing always conduct a pre-check 
  • When ascending and descending ensure both feet touch each tread 
  • Have three points of contact 
  • Always stand straight on and never side on 
  • Do not stand on a step ladder for a duration exceeding 30 minutes 
  • Only use the step ladder as per the user instructions 

Further help & advice 

In summary step ladders are safe to use for short duration tasks by a competent user, a Ladder Association accredited training course can help prove competency and give you the knowledge, confidence, and skills to work at height safely. Should you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact our team on 01204 590 232 or by emailing 

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