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BLOG on portable ladders

Here at ALLWELD, we have been manufacturing ladders for more than 30 years!
We have a wealth of experience in the industry and can certainly vouch that ladder usage has changed with the times.
Ladders are an awesome piece of equipment but must be thoroughly respected.
Our BLOG aims to ensure Australia’s ladder operators safely complete their many varied tasks.
PLEASE keep in mind that on Australian workplaces there will be a Workplace Health & Safety manual which explains what is required whilst working at heights. If you are unable to find the relevant WHS manual, speak to a supervisor, if this is also not possible, refer to your State’s relevant Code of Practice.
Links to Codes of Practice can be found on the previous page – Safe Operating Procedures.
Invariably you must undertake a risk assessment of the task and how you will perform it.
This may be as simple as taking a few minutes to think about the risks involved, or it may be more involved, and require the compilation of a risk assessment report as directed by the relevant WHS manual.
Either way the goal is to identify the risks and figure out methods to eliminate them.
We recognise the “Mums & Dads” of Australia do not have the resources of large companies, perhaps no training programmes, almost certainly no access to the guidance from a Health and Safety Officer, probably no WHS (Workplace Health & Safety) manual, AND I would also suspect, they don’t have a Maintenance Officer - no disrespect intended to the home handyperson!  Possibly their only resource is using Google.
We offer our expertise and hopefully can help you solve your ladder question.
Stay tuned to our BLOG and we will keep you informed and interested!

How high does my ladder need to be?

Ladder height

“How high does my ladder need to be?”  This would be our most frequently asked question.
I’ll keep the answer simple and delve deeper into the selection & safe use in later BLOGs.
Hold a tape measure up to the position you require your hands to be working.
Now subtract the height from the ground to your chest. The difference is how high you will need to be off the ground, or the height of the platform that you need to be standing on.
Ideally your hands should operate in a position in front of your chest.  However if you are working under a roof or similar object, it will not be comfortable having to bend your neck down whilst working, so measure to a point above your head instead of your chest.
In this case selecting the right height Platform Ladder is extremely important.
NB: Please refer to the relevant WHS manual when working in an Australian Workplace.

What type of ladder should I use?

“What type of ladder should I use?”  The minimum load rating I would recommend is 150kg and invariably the preferred choice of ladder is a platform ladder.
If your task is repetitive and to be performed on a smooth surface consider castors for your platform ladder. Carefully consider the size of the platform on your ladder. Some platforms are quite small and make working on them uncomfortable - especially if equipped with a safety gate.
If the task is repetitive and at multiple heights I would suggest two platform ladders at differing heights.
Extension ladders and single ladders are primarily a means of access to a work platform. Explore other options such as using a long handled tool to perform the task from the ground. If there is no other option ensure these ladders are safely secured before use. Only use them for light work of short duration performing simple tasks.
"A-Frame" Stepladders are also only to be used for light work of short duration performing simple tasks. Remember you are not allowed to stand on the very top, OR the next step down on an "A-Frame" Stepladder.
NB: Please refer to the relevant WHS manual when working in an Australian Workplace.

The warning label is missing from my ladder

“The warning label is missing from my ladder”.  In order to conform with the Australian Standard on portable ladders AS/NZS 1892.1:1996 Part 1: Metal, your ladder must have several mandatory markings. These include the name of the Australian manufacturer or Importer, the load rating of the ladder, whether it is intended for domestic or industrial use, and in large lettering DO NOT USE WHERE ELECTRICAL HAZARDS EXIST.
In addition there are relevant warnings for specific ladder types :-
• Extension Ladders must have the working length of the ladder
• Double sided ladders must state that TO BE USED IN THE FULLY OPEN POSITION ONLY
• On Extension or Single ladders a warning against standing any higher than the 3rd top rung
• On an A Frame Stepladder a warning against standing on the 2nd top tread
Additional warnings increases the safety of your ladder. These vary depending on the manufacturer but should basically follow along these lines.
• Inspect your ladder before climbing
• Set all four feet on a firm level surface
• Steps must be level
• One person at a time
• Lock spreader bar before climbing
• Keep steps clean and dry
• Wear slip resistant footwear
• Keep body centred between both side rails
• Do not over reach
• Maintain 3 points of contact
PLATFORM STEPLADDERS additional warnings
• Whilst ascending and descending maintain 3 points of contatct
• Do not use the top rail as a step
• Make sure all nuts & bolts are secure
If your ladder is missing a warning label MAKE SURE you contact the manufacturer or importer to obtain replacements.
NB: Please refer to the relevant WHS manual when working in an Australian Workplace.

What constitutes 3 points of contact?

“What constitutes 3 points of contact?"  This is an extremely important rule to remember whilst using a ladder.
Three points of contact is vital to maintaining attachment to your ladder!
Whilst ascending and descending this means at all times you must have either 2 feet and 1 hand on the ladder or 2 hands and 1 foot on the ladder.
Whilst working on the ladder a 3rd point of contact could be your torso leaning against the ladder.
This is where the benefit of a Platform Ladder comes to the fore, as once you are on the platform your hands are then free to perform your task.
If carrying an object up a ladder leads to less than 3 points of contact then DON’T do it. You may have to place the object on an intermediate shelf and then grab it from the ladder - whilst using your torso as the third point of contact.
NB: Please refer to the relevant WHS manual when working in an Australian Workplace.

My husband's ladder is wobbly

“My Husband’s ladder is wobbly."  I hear this from concerned partners all the time.
When put under load, a substandard ladder can flex, usually because the steps are no longer rigidly fixed to the styles.
Maybe the old faithful ladder in the shed has passed it’s used by date, or maybe it is made from thin material which has fatigued.  Chances are it probably wouldn’t pass the minimum 100kg load rating for Domestic ladders.
Industrial ladders are load rated to a minimum of 120kg, but I would advise never purchase a ladder with less than a 150kg load rating.  I believe the higher the rating, the stronger the ladder.  If you think your ladder is unsafe, convince your partner to upgrade – it’s not worth the risk.


What is my ladder load rated to?

What is my ladder load rated to?”  If a portable ladder complies with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1892.1:11996 the load rating will be clearly marked on it.
This is “the maximum load including the weight of the user, materials and tools which the ladder is intended to carry, in kilograms”. Sorry, I’ve just regurgitated that from page 7 of the AS 1892!
A domestic ladder must be load rated to at least 100kgs and an Industrial ladder must be at least 120kgs.
Personally, I believe these ratings are far too light.  I believe on average people are becoming heavier and are more likely to carry heavier tools and equipment.
I recommend never purchasing a ladder below 150kg ,and I believe a higher load rating indicates a stronger ladder.