Most telescopic ladders fail safety checks

Left to right with a dodgy ladder are Ladder Association chair Gail Hounslea, Cambridgeshire County Council senior trading standards officer Andrew Fayers and John Darby, manager of the Test & Research Centre

Telescopic ladders look great because they are light and stash away into a small storage area – but they are mostly liable to snap or buckle in use, causing serious injuries (or worse).

The Ladder Association commissioned the East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and Suffolk Trading Standards Imports Team to test commercially-available telescopic ladders. They found that more than 80% of the ladders tested failed to meet the minimum safety requirements designed to keep users safe.

More than half of the failed ladders were certified and sold as ‘compliant’ to standards such as CE marking, giving customers false assurance.

The Ladder Association, whose members include safety and training professionals and tool hire chains as well as ladder manufacturers, wants retailers to take more responsibility for quality when sourcing ladders to sell to customers.

Ladders should comply with the requirements of BS EN 131 Part 6:2019. It was against the most critical requirements of this standard that the sample products were tested at the UKAS-accredited independent Test & Research Centre in Soham.

Peter Bennett, executive director of the Ladder Association, said: “We are aware of below-standard ladders being sold across the UK to unsuspecting customers, and we are particularly surprised and unsettled to hear that some of our best-loved retailers are stocking potentially hazardous products.

 “The evidence we have found of unsafe ladders being retailed in the UK is astounding. The majority of telescopic ladders we tested did not meet the minimum safety requirements designed to keep users safe. These ladders are dangerous and have the potential to cause serious injury. Retailers have a legal and moral duty to consumer safety, and it is vital that they carry out due diligence to ensure that products are safe, particularly when they have been imported to the UK from an unknown manufacturer.”

Vicki Burch, chair of the East of England Trading Standards Association product safety group, said: “If consumers have concerns about the safety of a product before or after purchase, it should be reported to Trading Standards.”

Ladder Association chair Gail Hounslea said: “It’s easy to assume that ladders being sold from a recognisable site or store are ‘trustworthy’ and these marketplaces would only sell tried and tested products, but sadly this is not always the case… No matter their size, retailers and suppliers must take greater responsibility for consumer safety.”

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