• Lee Calver
  • 26 August 2014

Ensure your ladders are safe to use during the Ladder Exchange 2014

It has been estimated that over two million ladders are in daily use in the UK. With falls from height still one of the main causes of death and injury in the workplace, it is crucial that the ladders and stepladders being used on such a regular basis are frequently inspected to ensure they remain safe to work with.

People and businesses across the UK will have the chance to trade their old ladders in for discounted new ones with the Ladder Exchange 2014, which kicks off on 1 September.

Run by industry body, the Ladder Association, the Ladder Exchange takes old, potentially dangerous ladders out of circulation by offering people a cash incentive to trade them in. The 2014 scheme will run until the end of the year (31 December), so there is no excuse not to upgrade your ladders.

Commenting on the upcoming Ladder Exchange, the Ladder Association’s Chairman, Cameron Clow, said:

“This is our third year running the Ladder Exchange, which has been an excellent means of getting out the ladder safety message while helping people in a practical way. Thousands of ladders were traded in last year, saving a lot of people and businesses money and hopefully lives as well.”

How to trade in your ladder

The Exchange works through trade-in partners around the country, who offer a discount on a brand new ladder if you bring them your old one to trade. You can find out where your nearest partner is through its ‘Find a Partner’ section, divided into areas of the UK. All you need to do is go to the relevant section and then you can use any of the partners shown there.

Staying safe

During the 2014 exchange, safety for people who actually work on ladders is being heavily promoted. In the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) guidance, released earlier this year, it states that “people working with ladders must be competent, have had instruction, and understand how to use the equipment safely”.

The guidance also states that appropriate training can help to prove competence. Training could be the right option for your organisation and will help to ensure that you not only stay safe, but also keep on the right side of the law. Workplace Law offers in-house training on ladder safety.

This year’s Exchange will also come with expert tips for checking the condition of ladders and will take a look at the experiences of people using ladders of an unsafe nature.

As in previous years, the ‘Idiots on Ladders’ contest will return this year. Anyone can send in their pictures of dangerous ladder use to the Ladder Association’s Facebook page or email them to A public vote will then determine 2014’s biggest idiot on a ladder. While this competition may draw a few laughs, it is organised to highlight the incompetence of some ladder users and to ensure that people are aware of how dangerous it can be to use ladders in the wrong manner.

Is your ladder safe to use??

It is extremely important to remember that it is not always easy to determine if your ladder is in a fit state to work with. Furthermore, a ladder that worked fine the last time you used it could become unsafe the next time it is used, so it is crucial to be vigilant in your examination of the safety of ladders you are going to be utilising.

The HSE has created a checklist that should be conducted by the user at the beginning of any working day and also after changes such as dropping the ladder or moving it from a dirty to a clean area.

For leaning ladders:

  • Stiles must be in good condition, as bent or split stiles could lead to a collapse.
  • Make sure the feet are not worn, damaged or missing, or else the ladder could slip.
  • Confirm that the rungs are not bent, missing or loose in order to keep your ladder stable.

For stepladders:

  • Make sure the locking bars work and that they are not bent, worn or damaged.
  • Check the condition of the feet to make sure it won’t slip.
  • If the treads are contaminated or slippery, or if the platform is split or buckled, there could be instability or collapse.
  • Check the steps and make sure fixings aren’t loose as this may make the ladder collapse.
  • Make sure the stiles are not bent or damaged.

If after checking the state of the ladder you are still unsure if it is safe to use, you can take it to one of the Ladder Exchange trade-in partners who will check it over for you.

If you have any questions you wish to ask our health and safety experts, please post your comment in the box below and we will ensure that all of your queries are responded to.