Safe use of Combination & Telescopic Ladders

Here are some reminders and tips when selecting Combination and or Telescopic ladders to complete an elevated work activity.

 Combination ladders

Duty holders and users of combination ladders to ensure that they:

  • carry out pre-use checks;
  • use them in accordance with instructions;
  • check the locking mechanism(s)

Telescopic ladders

The use of telescopic ladders is growing more popular due to their ease of storage and convenience; however, there are numerous issues with many of this type of product due to the number of components involved and their construction. Namely:

  • they are often rated for a lower load (person, tools and materials);
  • the stiles are prone to greater bending;
  • they are prone to greater bending of the frame.

The issues are likely to increase with the height of the ladder.

The situation is compounded by significant numbers of substandard products that are being made available on the UK market.  These are often low cost products that are attractive and are imported from outside the EU. Some of these have been implicated in serious accidents, including fatalities.

The relevant European Standard – BS EN 131-6:2015 – provides more information on the design requirements.

Duty holders and users should ensure that:

  • pre-use checks on the ladders are thorough, checking the components and operation of each and every locking mechanism (often one or two per rung) and the associated release mechanism(s);
  • the ladders are stored well, transported carefully and maintained (including cleaning) as dirt and grit etc. can affect  locking mechanisms;
  • they understand the limitations and likely performance of their ladder, e.g. strength, bending etc.


HSE will be amending its ladder guidance INDG455: Safe use of ladders and stepladders: A brief guide http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg455.pdf to highlight these two issues.

C&C Consulting can assist in developing robust equipment management processes for all work equipment, including ladders and stepladders.