Step Ladders: Types, Safe Usage, and Applications

Any portable ladder comprising of flat steps that is self-supporting and whose length you are unable to adjust can be called a step ladder. It will also be hinged to enable easy storage. Step ladders come in varying sizes that might range in size from four feet to twenty feet. Step ladders that are shorter than 4 feet in length are commonly considered as step stools.

Types of Step Ladders

  • A Frame Ladders- These are ideal for use in a garage or shed. One can use these to carry out mundane tasks like pruning trees, cleaning window tops and so on.
  • Extension Ladders- These are used to reach greater heights even while ensuring that the ladder does not take up too much space. You can pull out the extension to the desired height by means of a locking teeth mechanism.
  • Attic Ladders- These are a type of static extension ladders that let one get into an attic. You can compress them for storage, but can’t really use them for any other purpose.
  • Telescopic Ladders- These have the ability to collapse into a compact size, while retaining the ability to be extended to a longer distance. These may not be for heavy duty use as might not find them very safe.
  • Flexible Ladders- Instead of sliding together these step ladders can be rolled up to save space. These are just ideal for an outdoor event or even as an emergency escape ladder.
  • Multipurpose Ladders- These could be likened to the Swiss Army knives of step ladders. You can actually use them for as many as twenty four purposes. These are quite sturdy and their flared legs make them very sturdy indeed.
  • Articulated Ladders- These step ladders deploy locking hinges that can let you create many ladders out of one. As a matter of fact, you can also create a ladder and a standing platform, if that is what you require.
  • Platform Trestle Ladders- You could liken these to scaffolding on a small scale. These types of ladders can help you work at heights greater than two meters.
  • Five Step Portable Ladders- This is for those who need just a little bit of height, but are also looking at portability, which is provided by a set of wheels at the front.
  • Portable Warehouse Ladders- These can be put to good use in a warehouse as these portable step ladders can help one to retrieve things stored at a height. These may come with and without platforms.

Using a Step Ladder 

  • Remember, safety first!
  • Handy as a step ladder is, all of its four side-rails should be supported on the ground, or it should not be used.
  • Never ever place a stepladder upon things like boxes or barrels to attain additional leverage in terms of height.
  • A step ladder should not be used unless you are able to spread it fully open. You should also be able to keep the spreaders locked. Under no circumstances should a step ladder be used as a single ladder. Neither should it be opened, when only partially open.
  • When climbing up the stepladder it makes eminent sense to face the ladder and hold it securely. It also makes sense to not carry anything while climbing up the stepladder.
  • When climbing a stepladder one should take care to position one’s body in the middle of the steps to prevent it from tipping over.
  • The anti-sleep feet provided at the bottom of the ladder must always be in good shape.
  • It would be best to not use a step ladder on surfaces with ice or snow on them.
  • One should never use the braces at the rear of a stepladder for climbing purpose as that is not what they are meant for.

Stepladders are used extensively at worksites by companies because not only are these light weight and convenient, they are fairly affordable as well. The fact that these can be scaled up to various heights and are quite portable and easy to set up makes them extremely popular. But these often tend to be misused and together with bad maintenance you do have instances of mishaps.

So it makes sense to inspect stepladders carefully for defects or any kind of damage from time to time. One should also do a special check post any incident. One should in fact inspect the stepladders before every use to ensure one’s safety. If any stepladder is found to be not fit for use, it should be marked as such.

Among the things that you should look for are damaged rungs, side rails, hardware and feet. One should also check out for oil, grease, dirt and moisture. Workers on their part must be take due precautions to ensure their safety. They should take care to read the manufacturers’ instructions and follow them. As mentioned earlier in the article one’s weight should be placed on the middle of the steps for stability.

It is also a good idea to use a barricade to ensure that traffic doesn’t approach a stepladder being used by someone at a site. If the ladder is not on a very stable surface, it makes great sense to secure it. One should also wear the right kind of footwear with a lot of treads on it.

Don’t ever use a stepladder for a purpose that it is not meant for as that might prove to be very dangerous. It is absolutely not on to try and move a stepladder while someone is on it. If you are going to be working with heavy tools, a stepladder should not be used. If you are going to working at some height for a very long time, you might not want to again use a stepladder.