Safety of ladders
Factors essential for the safety of ladders include the material that the ladders are made of and the strength of their profile, durability of their hinges, their structural stability in use and appropriate user instructions.
Because ladders are general consumer goods, they should not be CE marked, and no permission from an authority is required to sell them.
Ladder manufacturers, commissioners, importers, distributors and sellers are responsible for the safety of their products and for ensuring that the ladders are accompanied by all necessary user instructions and warnings.
Safety requirements for ladders intended for consumer use
Ladders intended for domestic use must meet the requirements of the Consumer Safety Act: they must not pose a danger to the health or property of consumers. Requirements on the safety of portable ladders are described in standard SFS-EN 131, the different parts of which include detailed information on safety and quality requirements and testing methods.
The safety of lightweight ladders has been examined, and they have been found to be dangerous to the user and not suitable for use in rescue situations.
Markings and user instructions
Ladders must be accompanied by instructions and warnings necessary for safe use in Finnish and Swedish. The instructions can include illustrative images to improve clarity, and instead of text, information can be provided with commonly known instruction or warning symbols.
Standard SFS-EN 131-3 provides detailed requirements on the labelling and instructions of ladders. Important information that should accompany ladders includes:
- necessary warnings and instructions in pictograms (e.g. “Read the instructions”, “Set up on an even surface”, “Do not reach to the side”);
- ladder type;
- manufacturing year and/or serial number;
- maximum total load of the ladder; and
- total weight of the ladder, kg.
Amendment A of the SFS-EN 131-3 standard provides examples of pictograms to be used on ladders.
Lightweight rescue ladders
The following are some of the safety risks that have been observed when assessing the safety of lightweight rescue ladders:
- Window frame fastening mechanisms have been proven not to be secure enough.
- Ladder rungs have been found to be slippery and easily twisted, making descent on the ladder difficult.
- The safety of ladders is not easy to confirm yourself because the use of ladders cannot be practiced in advance as the product is usually intended only to be used once.
- Safe use requires that the user has climbing experience.
Products must not be sold for rescue purposes if they do not in fact enable escape or may pose a serious danger to the user.