The Ladder Exchange is Back

Exchange unsafe ladders for new and save money

Posted on: 22/09/2015   By: Lee Rance

Back in 2007 the HSE established ‘The Ladder Exchange’, the main aim of which was to get as many unsafe and defective ladders out of commission as possible. The incentive for users is they get a new ladder and save money.  The campaign has already taken thousands of unsafe ladders out of commission since it was established.

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‘The Ladder Exchange’ is now run by The Ladder Association in partnership with manufacturers and suppliers across the country.

If you take a chance with a faulty ladder you are risking an accident and potentially your life

Ladder Association Chairman Martin Brooke said: “Over two million people work on ladders daily in the UK and we want all those workers to work safely. If you take a chance with a faulty ladder you are risking an accident and potentially your life.

“We are delighted to champion the Ladder Exchange because it’s an initiative, alongside formal training, that can really make a difference and help keep people safe.”

Ladder usage falls under the The Work at Height Regulations 2005. The regulations state that ladders can be used for work at height when a risk assessment has shown that using equipment offering a higher level of fall protection is not justified because of the low risk and short duration of use; or there are existing workplace features which cannot be altered.

Short duration is not the deciding factor in establishing whether an activity is acceptable or not – you should have first considered the risk. As a guide, if your task would require staying up a leaning ladder or stepladder for more than 30 minutes at a time, it is recommended that you consider alternative equipment.

You should only use ladders in situations where they can be used safely, e.g. where the ladder will be level and stable, and where it’s reasonably practicable to do so, the ladder can be secured.

Some people are simply unaware that their ladder is unsafe and could be putting themselves in danger each time they use it. The main things to look out for are:


  • Are the stiles bent or split?
  • Are the feet worn, damaged or missing?
  • Are the rungs bent, missing or loose?


  • Are the stiles bent or damaged?
  • Are the locking bars not working, worn, damaged or bent?
  • Are the feet worn, damaged or missing?
  • Is the platform split or buckled?
  • Are the treads bent, missing or damaged?
  • Are there any loose or missing fixings?

The campaign also champions the safe use of ladders and step ladders and encourage people to always check the ladder before they use it. Is the ladder the right tool for the job?

The following table highlights a few of the right and wrong ways to use a ladder:

Ensure ladder is right height for the job Do not over-reach
Maintain a firm grip at all times Do not use ladder in poor condition
Wear flat shoes Do not carry tools or materials – use a hoist
Ensure ladder is clean and not slippery Do not stand on top three rungs
Use a stand-off to avoid potential hazards Do not have excess weight on the ladder
Always foot ladder on a firm level base No more than one person on at a time
Have an adult at the base to stop slipping Do not overlap by less than three rungs
Tie the ladder at top and bottom if possible Do not leave unsecured ladder unattended
Lean at the correct angle (i.e. 4 up to 1 out) Do not fool around on or near a ladder

The HSE has a detailed guidance document on the safe use of ladders and stepladders (indg455). If you suspect that your ladder might be unsafe then take it along to a Ladder Exchange Partner near you between 1st September and 31st December.

If you require any health and safety advice, give us a call on 01908 632418 or send us an email.

Until next time.

Lee Rance.