Like most things in life, not all ladders are created equal. You’re probably going to encounter projects that require no more than a step stool, and others that demand you’re propelled more than 3 metres from the ground. Ladders provide a reliable solution to a number of issues faced around construction sites, residential projects and other vertically-challenging situations.
There is a range of ladders that have been engineered over the years to meet different job requirements. However, each ladder comes with its own safety concerns, so it’s crucial to understand what type to use for each project. Safety is the most important aspect of any job, no matter how big or small it may be. Check out iSeekplant’s comprehensive guide to ladders below, and make an informed decision on which is option is going to be most suitable for you. Efficiently getting the job done is important, but so is the safety of your clients, yourself and your workers.
The different types of ladders
There are several types of ladders that are used on most construction sites around Australia. The most common ladders you’re going to encounter include:
- Extension ladders
- Platform ladders
- Folding ladders
- Step ladders
This is what most people think about when they hear the term ‘work ladder’. Extension ladders need to be supported directly against a stationary object for proper support and safety.
Platform ladders are named appropriately - they’re fitted with a platform at their apex with hand rails. They offer a higher level of comfort and safety to workers than step ladders and are frequently used around residential projects.
Multi-Purpose ladders are amongst the most common ladders that you’ll find around a job site. They’re self-supporting with fold-out legs, and usually have rungs on both sides. If there are not rungs on both sides, the second side is for support only.
Step ladders are much smaller than multi-purpose ladders. They’re designed to provide small height boosts and are equipped with larger, wider stairs instead of rungs.
Safety should be the number one concern
When you’re on-site, safety should be your main focus. Strictly following all legal and procedural safety standards is essential to remain compliant and avoid any costly fines or legal issues.
There are five main areas of concern when it comes to ladder safety. By understanding these, you’ll be able to mitigate their potential risks and keep everyone around the construction site safe. The five points of emphasis are:
- Ladders that aren’t self-supporting must be positioned so that the feet aren’t any more than a quarter of the working distance from the top support
- Fixed ladders shouldn’t have a pitch of greater than 90 degrees
- Each rung on the ladder must be able to support a concentrated load of 110kg in the middle of the rung
- Self-supporting ladders need to be capable of supporting 4 times the maximum intended load
- Plastic ladders need to be able to support 3.3 times the intended load
- Ladder rungs/steps must be parallel, uniformly spaced and level
- Rungs are typically spaced 30-45 centimetres apart
- Wooden ladders should have a clear coat or stain
- Any type of grease, oil, or other substance is prohibited
- The top support should extend one metre above the area to be accessed
Some things to consider
- Select the proper ladder for the job
- Inspect all ladders before use
- Maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder at all times
- Tools and materials should be kept in a belt or hauled up
- Stand on the top rung of a ladder without a platform
- Attempt to move or reposition the ladder while on it
- Place a ladder on uneven ground or on any other object to gain more height
- Tie multiple ladders together to make a longer ladder
- Face away from the ladder while climbing down or performing work