What is a Ladder?
We have often heard that a huge number of people have been injured by falling off or due to any kinds of accidents caused by the slipping off of ladders. Some injuries also result in fatal damage or death. You may feel scared to use the ladders but this does not mean you shouldn’t buy and use them. All you have to do is to use them safely and carefully.
A ladder is a climbing tool having steps or rungs that are placed in the middle of two rails or poles. It helps people to reach high places as some structures and objects require an additional height, since these are taller than the people. Ladders are made up of different materials like steel, aluminium, fiber glass, wood, plastic, etc. It depends on the type of work you have to do to determine which ladder would suit your needs in the best way and prove to be the right product for you.
Function Of Ladder:
- The primary focus of a ladder is to serve you with the desired height, depending on the task you wish to execute.
- They make our life easier, provide convenience and efficiency to our work as they are built with unique integrations.
- A ladder is an extremely helpful tool, be it for domestic chores or for performing professional activities.
- A lot of in and around-the-house tasks require us to use a ladder, even if it includes basic activities like changing a lightbulb of the ceiling, hanging a frame on or painting the wall, cleaning the dust, grabbing a book from the topmost shelf or cleaning them.
- There are countless uses of ladders even in construction, workshops, fire trucks, swimming pools, etc.
There are different types of ladders that come in various forms, shapes and sizes with a vast range of products available in the market to choose from. You may be lazy to get a ladder out of your storage areas for such small tasks but it is much better and safer to use a ladder than dragging a chair or a box for the same.
There is more to using a ladder than just these domestic requirements and you can consider the style and designs, the purpose of the job and materials used in construction in order to have the best purchase from the available options. It is an essential part of your job to choose the right ladder and it should be put to use only after considering the safety factors as well as the prevention of the mishaps it can cause.
Safety Tips While Using a Ladder:
- Right type- As you know, there are so many types of ladders available in the market, with each designed to perform a specific task. So, always keep in mind the kind of project you are going to do and then decide the right type of ladder accordingly. Read the instruction manual clearly as well as check the labels on the ladder for all the safety and precautionary details in order to avoid any accidents or injuries.
- Surface- A solid foundation or base is one of the most important things before you set up a ladder. It is to be placed on an even and solid surface. In case if there is water or mud on the ground, then to prevent the ladder from losing its resistance, avoid setting up the ladder at such a place. These hazards may probably lead to an accidental loss or injury. For areas like gardens and other such uneven and sloppy terrains, using a tripod ladder is a safer option.
- Ladder’s feet- In order to have a safe climbing experience and successful completion of the task you are to perform, always check the ladder’s feet if they are damaged or not. The feet prevent the ladder from slipping and hence, they should be replaced immediately if ruined.
- Complete parts- It is very important to note that every ladder has many parts and each part is extremely crucial, even if it is a tiny screw. Always inspect the ladder before you put it to use. Don’t use the ladder in case of missing screws or any other part of it. Taking care of the steps is also important as they should not be loose. Buy a new ladder if it has missing parts.
- Movement- Being cautious and careful is necessary to use a ladder. Always move slowly and avoid abrupt movements. Climb from the front and always face the ladder to maintain balance. Bending, turning, twisting, etc. lead to disruption of balance and such sudden movements become a cause of injury.
The common types of ladders can be broadly classified as:
Step/A-Frame ladders- They are further divided into:
- Front step ladder
- Twin step ladder
- Step stools
Platform ladders- They are further divided into:
- Podium ladders
- Platform Trestle ladders
Extension ladders- They are further divided into:
- Adjustable ladders
- Flexible/Rope ladders
- Telescopic ladders
Warehouse and Attic ladders
Step ladders are a kind of household ladder, used for quick domestic activities like fixing a light bulb or storing and lifting items placed on the top most shelf. They are not so expensive and can be stored away conveniently when the task is completed and the ladder is no more needed. They are safe to use by everyone, and come with a short height to promote stability. In case of an unfortunate trip, there will be a lower distance when you slip.
It is important to keep in mind that the step ladder has a fixed length ranging from 4 feet to 20 feet, and thus, is not adjustable. It is self-supporting and consists of two sets of rungs that are evenly spaced and are connected together by a top cap.
When fully open, a step ladder has a shape that resembles the letter A. A-frame ladders are another kind of stable household accessory. Their sturdiness comes from the double-sided frame and braces. They are extremely convenient for they do not require any external help from someone for support while you have climbed the ladder to work. You must carefully see to it that you do not step one step higher at a time as it would be dangerous.
The kinds of step ladders are:
- A front step ladder– It is A-shaped with two sides. One of its sides is meant only for support while the other side has steps or rungs. This ladder is designed to be used by one person.
- A twin step ladder– It also has an A-shape but the difference between the two is that the twin step ladder has rungs or steps on both sides, allowing two people to climb the ladder at the same time.
- Step stools– They are just like the single step version of a step ladder, giving an extra foot reach of height. There are other types that include two or more steps and fold up for easier storage. They can be handy to have around when you need to grab something from or keep something on the top shelf in your cabinet.
- Platform ladders– The convenience of a step ladder combined with the comfortable place to stand along with a guardrail for safety is the primary purpose platform ladders solve. They are usually required in jobs related to construction purposes, mostly for outdoor surfaces like painting garages, window frames, etc. They are divided into the following two kinds:
Podium ladders offer a platform to rest your tools and other items, having a sturdy and safe body. They allow hassle-free work to be done like painting a wall using a nail gun.
Platform trestle ladders are built with a shelf-like platform between the two legs of the ladder. They appear similar to how the A-frame ladders are designed but are actually more stable than them. The platform provides space to place the paint can along with some place to take a few steps forward or backward.
The limitation of a step ladder is height, even before the weight becomes an issue for using the ladder. It is at this point that the extension ladders come into use. They help to reach greater heights, acting as a good choice for projects on the rooftop or the tall exteriors of the house.
Extension ladders are straight ladders that are required to be kept stable by leaning them against a sturdy wall or any stiff standing structure when the extension ladder is being used. Thus, a limitation and being different from step ladders is that it is not self-supporting, but enables people to reach high places without much difficulty as such, and is required at areas which need a really long ladder. For example, when you need to go to the roof to do work, and you find yourself in need of reaching high and far corners. If you don’t have plenty of storage space to be able to store a giant ladder, then extension ladders can prove to be perhaps the best option; used most frequently for several purposes.
The major advantage of using an extension ladder is to stack it up into a compact size when not in use, and simply pull up and extend to the required length before putting it to use. They can be easily stored anywhere, even if it is a garage of the standard size. This kind of ladder has screws or clasps which lock the extensions together after being pulled out to the required height, thus, preventing it from collapsing back down. It has two parts; the fly and the base, where the fly will slide upwards when extended and the base stays on the ground. The hooks on top secure its position.
The only thing you have to be careful with the essential extension ladder is standing on the top rungs as these rungs are designed to provide stability and firmness over the ground while you work, but will not adequately support you if you stand on them. It may make the bottom slip out from under you.
There are further few kinds of extension ladders like adjustable, flexible and telescopic ladders.
- Adjustable ladders are used for stability and balance on uneven surfaces. They are easy to carry, safe to use, and have a sturdy and durable life. They come with locking technology that makes adjustable ladders as best amongst other options.
- Flexible ladders are not as easy to climb as they appear to be, requiring upper body strength for the same. They are used for outdoor recreational purposes like caving. They sometimes also act as an escape route to exit a dangerous situation. They roll up into a smaller space.
- Telescopic ladders extend to the required length with each step becoming less wide subsequently, depending upon the design. The ladder can be pushed down to a very compact size once you are done using the ladder. They are not so stable with the help of external support from someone, you can get your job done with additional support. They are so easy to store that even a cupboard shelf or the space under your bed can suffice.
Folding ladders make our tasks easier as we do not have to look for and climb on sturdy boxes or any kind of stable surfaces or chairs. They can be used at all places, are completely stable and can be compressed easily for better storage. Using aluminium folding ladders makes them lightweight and hence the best folding ladder to rely on.
Articulated ladders are a kind of portable ladder which make it easy for us to transport them. They come with a series of locking hinges which enables them to remain in place, but limits us with the range of height they offer. They too are versatile in nature. You can take one ladder and make several out of it, or make a standing platform over an open space. They require lubrication for smooth operation.
Scaffolding ladders are uniquely designed with detachable hinges which can be unlocked at any time to be able to create multiple designs out of one ladder. You can comfortably work on even the prolonged tasks. The locking hinges provide a platform and a ladder both.
Warehouse & Attic Ladders
As the name itself suggests, the warehouse ladders are the most suitable option for a warehouse or barn-like facility. With great ease to move objects around from one place to another as well as storing them at high places, warehouse ladders are the most effective option. They come with built-in platforms and safety railings for additional safety of its users.
Some of them are also attached to tracks to move yourself without stepping down first on the ground, while the others may have pedals for you to step on to move yourself around.
Attic ladders are the kind of ladders that drop down from the attic when you need to enter it. They are convenient for small spaces to stack extensions on to each other and store them in the attic. They provide static as well as strong support.
They are more comfortable ladders if you wish to transport in the attic since there is not much space available for a flight of stairs; thus, portability not being one of the primary purposes. It is attached to a door for access to a loft, attached with hinges to reach the floor at an angle. They provide a quick way into the space around. You cannot move them around for other uses but they too can be collapsed into a compressed version for being stored.
Kinds of ladders are:
- Painting ladders are designed like the traditional A-frame ladders and have an added feature of a built-in paint can shelf, suitable for painting taller rooms if you are going to do that task yourself.
- Portable ladders which offer great mobility with wheels and back legs and stoppers. They are similar to the size of A-frame step ladder, yet differ in the function, working as warehouse ladders.
- Multipurpose ladders too are available which are versatile in nature and help to carry out more than one function at a time. It is a good investment for a variety of functions and proves to be the best choice as it combines the functions of step and extension models. They can be modified into 24 different ways, having strong and sturdy, flared and stable legs.
- Mobile ladders help you to move as you stand on them. They may sound dangerous, but are convenient for large spaces with large objects to be moved around freely. It has wheels that can be locked to provide static support to its users.
- Malleable ladders look like a ribbon that is flexible to be stacked up. They can be fit into your bag or car while you travel, often used as fire escape ladders.
- Speciality ladders do not fall into any particular category of ladders. They are meant for specialised use like recreational activities but not for industrial purposes.
- Pool ladders are used to get into or get outside the pool or hot tub.
- Net ladders are liked by children to play with in their backyards or for climbing trees. Made of rope, they are anchored by wooden rungs and are fixed into the ground.
Ladders are an essential and extremely useful tool for many tasks. They come in various shapes and sizes, unique designs and features, each one tailored for some specific purpose. The maintenance and cleanliness of the ladder are also equally important steps which should always be kept in mind while working with ladders.
Ladders seem easy to use but may be a cause of many accidents in case of carelessness or inappropriately following instructions. People fall off, slip down or tip sideways if they do not use the ladder correctly, hence, in order to avoid accidents, the following factors should be considered before buying a ladder:
- Storage space
Ladders are regulated on several fronts with the required labeling and one of them is the Duty Rating which gives its maximum weight capacity. They are as follows:
- Type IAA (Extra Heavy Duty), 375 pounds
- Type IA (Extra Heavy Duty), 300 pounds
- Type I (Heavy Duty), 250 pounds
- Type II (Medium Duty), 225 pounds
- Type III (Light Duty), 200 pounds
Note: This rating refers to the total weight which includes whatever you are hauling onto it too. The cost of your ladder will vary with the type you buy. These ratings reflect three general categories:
- Type I for industrial products.
- Type II are for commercial applications.
- Type III is for household use.
The important part of these ratings still lies with the weight capacity.
You can see a designation for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) type. It is the official organization responsible for the rules on ladder design and construction. It regulates the information that must appear on the label including any specific guidelines or warnings. It varies with the type whether it is a wood ladder, metal one, or even a utility step stool. Their rules cover a lot of ground including testing requirements.