A Guide to UK Ladder Standards

See what Youngman Ladders go through before you even take a step on one

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Youngman Ladder testing: Behind the scenes at WernerCo’s UK facility

The new European EN131 ladder standards were released in January 2018. Watch how the world leader in manufacturing ladders and access equipment, WernerCo, tests ladders at their state of the art UK facility.

What is EN131 and how does it affect the UK?

EN131 is a European committee for standardisation (CEN) harmonised standard for portable steps and ladders, manufactured from metal and certain other materials such as GRP. It covers minimum safety requirements.

There were 3 standards for ladders in the UK:
• EN131 is for trade and light industrial use.
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 are for heavy duty and industrial use.
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 3 is for domestic use.

As of 1st January 2018 there is one standard with 2 classifications:
• EN131 Professional
• EN131 Non-Professional

There are separate requirements for stepstools (EN14183), loft ladders (EN14975), telescopic ladders (EN131-6), mobile ladder with platform (EN131-7) and single or multiple joint ladders (EN131-4).

Why have ladder standards changed?

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 has been introduced in the UK in 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domestic use (BS2037:1994 class 3) and with the proposed introduction of the new EN131 this domestic standard will be withdrawn. BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 for heavy duty and industrial use will also be withdrawn.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 are 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.

Are there any other changes still to come?

There are some product categories that still need to be finalised.

Telescopic Ladders – The current applicable standard is EN131 part 6 (2015). This is under review and amendments to bring it in line with testing requirements in EN131 part 2 are anticipated before the end of 2018.

Multi-Purpose Hinged Ladders – The current applicable standard is EN131 part 4 (2007). Again the brief is to bring the standard in line with the testing requirements of EN131 part 2. In addition there is a growing pressure to have EN131 part 1 amended to be more flexible on the base width for the MT type of ladder allowing the splayed base to be retained.

Will the introduction of the new harmonised EN131 affect the range and availability of products in the UK?

Yes, the domestic use (Class 3) range and products will be withdrawn and replaced by the new EN131 Non-Professional rating and the industrial Use (Class 1) range and products will be withdrawn and replaced by the new EN131 Professional rating.

Will the 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 new ladders to comply after a period of grace to January 2019.

What are the main differences between EN131 and BS 2037?

Many of the characteristics of the standards are similar but the new EN131 has introduced stabilisers on ladders over 3m, new slip tests, new cycle durability tests, as well as new tests for ladders in the position of use. Maximum load has been standardised at 150kg load rating.

When will the new harmonised EN131 come into force in the UK?

There are three main parts to the new standard: Part 1 - Terms, Types & Functional sizes, Part 2 - Testing and Part 3 - Marking & User Instructions. Parts 1 & 2 were introduced in January 2018 with a year for manufacturers to transition to the new standard, before the January 2019 deadline. Part 3 has been released early 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 users such as utility companies to stop using their current products but as they replace their ladders they should comply to the new standard.

Suppliers and retailers have a period of grace to manufacture and sell through stocks of products compliant to prior standards – these products are safe to use, and there is no requirement to remove any product from sale for these reasons.

Information Brochure

EN131 - A Guide to UK Ladder Standards

Ladder Association - Guide to Changes in Ladder Standards