What is EN131 and how does it affect the UK?
EN131 is a European Union Certification for portable steps and ladders, manufactured from metal and certain other materials such as GRP. It covers minimum safety requirements.
There are currently 3 standards for ladders in the UK
• EN131 is for trade and light industrial use;
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 for heavy duty and industrial use; and
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 3 is for domestic use.
There are separate standards for stepstools (EN14183) and loft ladders (EN14975).
Why is EN131 changing?
The European Commission is dissatisfied with elements of the existing standard and has issued an EC Mandate for the standard to include additional requirements for stability, slip, durability and strength in position of use which will help in preventing the main causes of ladder related accidents.
How is EN131 changing?
A harmonised standard will be introduced in the UK in January 2018 which revokes any existing national versions.
The UK has differed from other European countries with a standard specific to ladders intended for domestic use (BS 2037:1994 class 3) and with the proposed introduction of the
new EN131 this domestic standard will be withdrawn.
BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 for heavy duty and industrial use will also be withdrawn.
There will be two new categories for ladders under EN131; one for professional users and one for non- professional users reflecting that there are differences in the requirement for performance of the ladder.
Will the introduction of the new harmonised EN131 affect the range and availability of domestic use (Class 3) products in the UK?
Yes, Class 3 will be withdrawn and replaced by the new EN131 Non Professional rating.
Will the introduction of the new harmonised EN131 affect the range and availability of Industrial use (Class 1) products in the UK?
Yes, Class 1 will be withdrawn and replaced by the new EN131 Professional rating.
Will compliance be optional?
Ladder standards in the UK are optional but as the UK has participated fully in the standards development, Trading Standards and the HSE will expect ladders to comply.
Changes to these regulations are not anticipated post Brexit.
What are the main differences between EN131 and BS 2037?
Many of the characteristics of the standards are similar but the new EN131 will introduce stabilisers on ladders over 3m, new slip tests, new cycle durability tests, as well as new tests
for ladders in the position of use.
When will the new harmonised EN131 come into force in the UK?
There are three main parts to the new Standard: Part 1 Constructions, Part 2 Performance and Part 3 Instructions and CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation, has agreed that Part 1 and 2 should be implemented together in the UK by January 2018.
How will I know if a product is compliant with EN131?
Products will need to be independently tested and certified for compliance and labelled with the new EN131 Standard.
What happens to products that do not comply with EN131?
There is no legal requirement to conform to standards in the UK but safety bodies such as Trading Standards and the HSE will expect manufacturers to comply. They will not expect main users such as utility companies to stop using their current products but as they replace their ladders they should comply to the new standard.