The old British Standards for portable ladders and steps BS 2037 and BS 1129 have been withdrawn and replaced with one single European standard: EN 131.
The British version of this new standard is
BS EN 131 (2018)
What is EN131?
EN 131 is a European Union Certification designed to ensure portable ladders and steps, manufactured from metal and other specific materials, meet minimum safety requirements and applies across the whole of Europe, not only the UK.
The updated standard makes buying and training processes easier and includes two categories:
This means if you are purchasing a new ladder to use in a business, trade, commercial or industrial environment, you need a 'Professional' ladder. If you are buying a ladder purely for use at home by yourself and you are not a tradesman, you can purchase a 'Non-Professional' ladder. Both 'Professional' and 'Non-Professional' ladders will carry the same 150kg max load, the difference is in the testing procedures. Non-Professional ladders must pass a durability test of 10,000 cycles whilst 'Professional' ladders must survive a huge 50,000 cycle test. This makes a lot of sense as professional ladders are probably going to be used each and every day, while Non-Professional ladders (domestic) are likely to be used much less frequently.
Key EN131 changes
The revised version of EN 131 will help reduce ladder-related accidents by implementing the following changes:
Minimum weight capacity of 150kg for all ladders
Extension ladders over 3.0m when extended must have stabilisers or a wider base to increase lateral stability
Extension ladders over 3.0m when extended will no longer split into separate sections
New cycle durability tests
New slip tests
New tests to test strength in position of use
From January 2018, all new ladders and step ladders should be designed to meet the new EN 131 standards, however, there is a transition period of 12 months to facilitate compliance by the UK Industry. All Ladder Association members and all reputable UK suppliers have until 31st December 2018 to ensure the products they sell comply with the new standard.
Throughout this transition period, ladders certified to the old version of EN 131, BS 2037 and BS 1129 can still be sold. This means purchasing such ladders during the transition period will still be legal.
The new standards don't apply retrospectively. As such, existing ladders won't need to be replaced straight away if in good condition. The update to EN 131 just sets a new minimum standard to ensure ladders are designed to be safer and more durable.
What Steps Should I Take ?
You don't need to do anything unless you are buying a new ladder, in which case you should check that the ladder of your choice is compliant with the new EN 131 2018 standard, a clearly visible label on the side of the ladder will confirm this. Whilst standards are not law, you may find an ever increasing number of construction sites and workplaces will not allow equipment which does not comply with the new standard on to their premises, so if you are a contractor, you may need to consider upgrading your ladders in the near future.
Keep in mind no ladder can be CE marked, and any ladders claiming to have CE certification should be avoided. If you come across such a ladder, let Trading Standards and the seller know immediately as this claim is fraudulent.
Look into updating your purchasing policies. EN 131 Professional ladders should be specified when it's time to buy new ladders or replace existing ones.
If you're looking to get into a bit of DIY, you should search for ladders that fall under any EN 131 category (Professional or Domestic). However, if a ladder is strictly only used to complete household jobs, a Domestic Non-Professional ladder will be sufficient.
Do I Need Retraining?
As long as you have a Ladder Association LadderCard, you won't need to retrain. This is because the current training is compliant with the new EN 131 standard.
All those who use ladders in a professional environment should complete training that gives them the essentials on ladder use, handling and storage.
Keep A Step Ahead
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For more detailed information on the new British Standard EN131, Download this illustrated guide from YOUNGMAN
EN131 - An Illustrated Guide