Ladder Certification Standards

All ladders manufactured and supplied within the United Kingdom and the European Union should be manufactured to specified standards and correctly classified. These requirements apply to all portable ladder types and include stepladders, platform steps and extension ladders. Specialist single use ladders, (eg. pole ladders, loft ladders), and fixed access ladders, (eg. static roof access ladders), are not intended for classification under these standards.

There are three main classifications of ladder – Class 1, Class EN131 and Class III. Each classification indicates the safe working load that a ladder is designed to support.

The value of the safe working load is intended to cover the weight of a single person and their equipment and is also referred to as the 'Maximum Load'.

These classifications can be broadly categorised into the type of use that a ladder is designed to support ie. Heavy Duty Industrial Use, Commercial Light Trade Use and Light Domestic Use.

Classification Duty Rating Maximum Load Application Symbol
Class 1 130kg 175kg Industrial Class I
Class EN131 115kg 150kg Commercial Class EN131
Class III 95kg 125kg Domestic Class III

How are stepladders measured?

One of the problems people face when buying a new stepladder is how to measure a ladder in the first place to suit their needs. The buyer also needs to take into account the required safety precautions as well as usable space therefore there are two different measurements you should take when measuring a stepladder, which are the open working height, which varies depending on the step type chosen and the closed height, which will affect your storage of the ladders.

Platform steps

Platform stepladders have the top tread as a platform that the user can stand on, therefore when choosing platform steps the number of treads tells you how many treads the stepladder has including the platform.

The platform height is the height from the floor to the platform you can stand on. On platform steps it’s safe to work from the platform height.

The overall open height is the measurement from the floor to the top of the knee brace (the top section). The closed height is the length of the step once it’s in its folded position.

The reach height, or working height is typically assumed to be 6ft above the platfom step though this is of course affected by your actual height.

Swingback steps

The number of treads on a swingback step includes all treads including the top section so a 6 tread stepladder has 5 treads plus the very top section. For safety reasons the HSE advises that users should not stand on the top 3 treads. However, according to the EN131 standard you should not use the top two treads. Where a stepladder only has 3 treads the HSE recommendation is that you should use the bottom tread.

The open height is measured from the floor to the top plastic section when the steps are fully open. The closed height is measured the same but with the stepladders fully closed or in it's folded position.

The reach height, or working height is typically assumed to be 6ft above the recommended working step though this doesn't take into account your actual height.

Taking all these measurements into consideration should ensure you choose the right stepladder for the job, as well as helping to ensure your safety whilst working.