Different Types of Ladders and their Classes
When using a ladder it is important to choose the right product for the job. Choosing the correct style is important but it is vital to select the appropriate class and strength. Our guide below explains what to consider and what you need to look out for when selecting a product.
The vast majority of access equipment and all standard ladder products are subject to British and European standards.
The BS2037 British Standard & EN131 European Standard
The most long-standing British standard is BS2037, which applies to aluminium steps and ladders. This was introduced in 1994 and sets out 3 different classes, relating to Domestic (Class 3), Trade (Class 2) and Industrial (Class 1).
In addition to British standards, there are also European standards for the same products, most notably EN131, which has now replaced Class 2.
So the following classes now apply to aluminium ladders and steps:
Class 1 (Industrial)
Maximum static vertical load 175 kg (27.5 stone).View Products
Class EN131 (Professional)
Maximum static vertical load 150 kg (23.5 stone). (This replaces the Class 2 [Light Trade] standard.)View Products
Class III (Domestic)
Maximum static vertical load 125 kg (19.5 stone).View Products
What Are The Differences Between The Classes?
It is important to understand the difference between classes and the types of jobs these are suitable for so that you are safe when using the ladder and if using them in a commercial environment, insurers may not pay out if the wrong ladder is used. Class 1 is suitable for Industrial jobs, with a maximum static vertical load of 175kg, making them the most heavy duty products under BS2037 standard.
EN131 has replaced Class 2, and is suitable for trade use and has a maximum static vertical load of 150kg. For work on a building site insurers would insist on either a Class 1 or EN131 ladder to be used, rather than a Domestic class product. Class 3 is a domestic standard, suitable for home DIY use and with a maximum static vertical load of 125kg. We would typically only recommend a domestic class product if it is something that will be used infrequently. If you require a product for use every day we would highly recommend a trade or industrial class product.
Ladders and access equipment are regulated by different standards, typically broken down by material and product types, so understanding the most suitable classification can be a little confusing.
Timber ladders and steps for instance are covered by a different British standard (BS1129), which is again broken into classes, Class 1 (Industrial – 175kg maximum load) and Class 2 (Trade – 150kg maximum load). In the same way as above Class 2 has been replaced by EN131, so some timber ladders will be EN131, while the majority are manufactured to Class 1.
The other main category that is subject to British and European standards is loft ladders. The British standard of BS7553 is split into two categories, Class G (General use – 100kg maximum load) and Class H (Heavy use – 150kg maximum load). This British standard has been superseded with a new European standard EN14975 (150kg).
Finally many step stools are tested to the European standard EN14183.
Classes Relating To Material
Below are some additional classes that correspond to the material in which the ladder is manufactured from.
- BS 1129:1990 (British) applies to wooden ladders and stepladders.
- BS 2037:1990 (British) applies to metal ladders and stepladders.
- BS EN 131:1993 (European) applies to metal and wooden ladders and stepladders.