Many businesses outside the construction related industries, who only use ladders or stepladders occasionally, are probably unaware of the changes relating to standards of the equipment and the new regulations which came into effect on the 1st January 2018 for new equipment.
The new single British and European standard EN 131: Ladders, replaces BS 2037 and BS 1129. Previously, domestic use and industrial use ladders came under different regulations. However, the new European standard simplifies this by covering all uses under one European standard: EN 131. The British version of this is BS EN 131.
The updated standard simplifies the buying and training process into two categories;
• EN 131 Professional (Industrial and trade) and
• EN 131 Non-Professional (domestic).
Overall, the standard will improve ladder safety, stability and durability, reduce ladder related accidents and make the process of selecting the right ladder straight-forward, through safer design and testing to ensure suitability.
The revised standard will now ensure all ladders, whether for professional or domestic use, have the same safe working load of 150kg.
Extension ladders over 3m to have a wider base to reduce slips and increase stability.
The updated standard also introduces new cycle durability tests as a way of checking product durability.
Key Dates effecting the changes are,
• From January 2018, all new ladders and step ladders must be designed to adhere to the new EN 131 standards.
• The 31st December 2018, is the target transition date for the Ladder Association and reputable suppliers.
During the transition period, ladders certified to the previous version of EN 131, BS 2037 and BS 1129 can still be sold to enable suppliers to clear their stocks, meaning that these products are still able to be purchased during the transition period.
The new product standards do not apply retrospectively, therefore, existing ladders do not need to be replaced immediately if they are in good condition. The revision simply sets a new minimum, to ensure even the most basic DIY products are designed to be safer and more durable.
Those who require industrial use ladders should consider updating their purchase policies, to ensure EN 131 Professional ladders are specified when it’s time to replace existing ladders or buy new ones.
Those who simply require ladders for domestic use (DIY), can look for products that fall under any EN 131 category (Non-Professional or Professional). Provided the ladder will only be used to complete DIY jobs, a Non-Professional ladder will be adequate. However, if there is a chance of using it in a business manner, purchasing a Professional ladder would be recommended.