Self-supporting step ladder

Step ladders are a type of self-supporting ladder. Unlike, say, an extension ladder - which must be leaned up against a wall or another surface that's sturdy enough to support it - a step ladder can stand up all on its own, without any additional support or stabilisation.

But here's a question that a lot of people ask: can a step ladder be leaned against a wall and used as a straight ladder if the situation demands it? Or should step ladders exclusively be used as self-supporting ladders?

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Non-conductive ladder

Aluminium ladders are great for all sorts of tasks, but if you're carrying out electrical installations or working near power lines, an aluminium ladder is not a safe choice.

This is because aluminium conducts electricity. When you're working with electricity, you want a non-conductive ladder that will reduce your risk of electrocution.

And that's where our fibreglass step ladders come in. Unlike aluminium, fibreglass is non-conductive, so these ladders are ideal for electricians and anyone else who frequently works near electrical hazards.

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Using a ladder on stairs

As a general rule, ladders should be placed on level ground to maximise stability while in use. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines say:

"You should only use ladders in situations where they can be used safely, e.g. where the ladder will be level and stable"

This rule would appear to preclude the use of ladders on stairs. However, if you do need to get a bit of extra height while working on a staircase, we may still be able to help you.

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How to climb a ladder

A ladder can be a safe and effective means of working at height, but you have to be careful when ascending and descending. Rushing to go up or down a ladder may result in a nasty accident - and we've already covered the injuries that can come from falling off a ladder.

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Injuries

In January 2020, a roofing company in Kent was fined more than £28,000 because a worker had fallen from a ladder and sustained serious back injuries. The company hadn't taken steps to ensure that the man would be able to maintain three points of contact with the ladder while working - a HSE inspector stated that the accident could have been prevented "by simply providing basic and inexpensive lifting aids".

Unfortunately, this story is far from unique. Just one month earlier, in December 2019, the owner of a painting and decorating company in Northamptonshire was sentenced to 160 hours of unpaid work (and ordered to pay more than £2,000 in costs) after one of his employees suffered a fall that left him paralysed from the chest down.

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