Combination Ladders

There's no doubt that ladders are an essential tool in just about every home and business. They help us perform work at height safely and efficiently and you can buy different ladders for different purposes, for instance, a telescopic ladder is the perfect choice for portability (you can have one in the car), but around the home a step ladder with a platform may be a better choice. However, not everyone has the money to invest in several special-purpose ladders for various tasks as this could cost hundreds of pounds. Luckily, there is an affordable alternative: the combination ladder!

Some Basic Safety Rules that Apply to All Ladders

The following rules apply to all types of ladders, including combination models. Whenever you use a ladder, it's important that all feet have good contact with the ground or floor in the area where it's being used. Be especially careful using ladders outdoors in wet weather, because the chance of the feet slipping is greatly increased. When using a four-footed ladder that has a hinge mechanism that holds the sections in an A configuration, the legs must be fully opened and the hinge's locking mechanism completely engaged. Never attempt to use an unopened step ladder as a straight ladder, since a ladder deployed this way is extremely unstable. When climbing a ladder, be sure to keep your body centred between the stiles (the poles either side), and never overreach or lean too far to either side. Never stand on a rung higher than what is recommended by the ladder's manufacturer, and always face the ladder when climbing or descending. It's essential never to attempt to move a ladder when a person is on it.

Combination Ladders as Extension Ladders

Since a combination ladder also can function as an extension ladder, there's another set of safety recommendations to heed. First, always pay attention to the ladder's duty rating. This should appear on the label. The duty rating is the combined weight of the user, along with any tools or materials being used on the ladder. For leaning ladders, like extension models, care should be taken to secure or tie off the top section to add more stability. A leaning ladder should be placed at the proper angle to the vertical surface it's against. This is about 1 horizontal foot for every 4 vertical feet, or about a 75 degree angle. It's also important never to place a combination ladder on a movable object, such as a barrel or a box. When used as a straight ladder, it should extend 3 feet above the roof line if you're working at height.

Combination Ladders: About Articulated Models

Articulated combination ladders are fitted with hinges that allow them to be configured as either an extension or step ladder. When using an articulated ladder as an extension ladder, never allow its length to exceed 30 feet. It's also essential for the feet of the ladder to be equipped with a non-slip material, such as rubber. Before using any ladder, perform a brief but thorough safety inspection. If you find a problem, do not use the ladder, and put a sign on it warning others of its condition. In many cases, it's better to destroy a ladder than attempt a questionable repair that may later lead to someone getting injured.

Combination Ladders as Stairwell Ladders

Most combination ladders can be used as a stairwell ladder, because each section can be set to a different height. A combination ladder is always fitted with a horizontal stabiliser bar at it's base to give extra width and stability when using the ladder in freestanding (stepladder) modes in order to prevent the ladder toppling over sideways. All ladders, including combination models, must be used only for their intended purpose or purposes, and the manufacturer's instructions should be strictly adhered to. Rung spacing is an important feature, and the ideal spacing is between 10 and 12 inches apart, the closer the rungs are spaced the more comfortable the ladder will be to climb and use. Aluminium ladders often have ridged, D-shaped rungs that give a very stable and comfortable surface from which to work, but no matter what shape the ladder rungs are, they should always feature a serrated non-slip surface and smooth, worn rungs or treads mean the ladder has reached the end of it's life and should be replaced. When working on a ladder, keep the surrounding area clear. Always use both hands when climbing, and always observe the Three points of Contact rule ( both feet and at least one hand on the ladder at all times ). If you're working around electrical sources, use only timber or fibreglass ladders because they do not conduct electricity.

Combination Ladders: The 2.0 Metre Hailo Self-Levelling Combination Ladder

This remarkable ladder boasts a precise German design that offers superior build quality combined with innovative features. It uses a foot-operated levelling system that ensures safe deployment every time. All that's needed is a push on the ladder's central levelling pedal to engage the curved base stabiliser automatically to adjust for up to 150mm of height difference. The ladder is certified to BS EN131 for trade use, and it measures 1.92m when closed. Its maximum free-standing height is 2.85m, and the stabiliser bar measures 1.20m. Fully extended, this Hailo model measures 3.70m, and offers a maximum safe reach height of 4.80m. It features sturdy guides with smooth plastic gliders, and the large feet offer maximum surface contact. It's rated to support 150kg, and itself weighs 15kg. The ladder has a generous 10-year warranty. Expect to pay about £145.00, including VAT and free delivery.

For an outstanding value in combination ladders, the Hailo 2.0m self-levelling model deserves serious consideration. It's sure to meet the needs of trade, industrial and domestic users because it's a well-designed, professional tool that has a good range of unique safety features, and great value for the price.

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