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Ladders and stepladders

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We tested a range of ladders and stepladders.

A ladder is an essential item for many household tasks - and a well-designed small stepladder will keep you safe by providing a grab rail and a stable platform to stand on.

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About our tests

Ladder malfunctions can lead to serious injury and we think consumers should have the reassurance that all ladders on sale meet a mandatory safety standard.

We applied vertical loads to the ladder steps and then added various side forces.
We applied vertical loads to the ladder steps and then added various side forces.

We put the ladders and stepladders through a series of safety tests based on the standard for portable ladders AS/NZS 1892.1:1996. This standard isn’t compulsory, but we think it should be.

First we applied vertical loads to the steps and then added various side forces, to measure stability and how much the ladders “walked” as they swayed side-to-side. The standard states the maximum "walk" allowed.

Next we placed vertical loads as stated in the standard on to the treads, to see whether these loads would bend the stiles and treads or shear the tread-to-stile joints. Finally we did a second “walking” test to see if these tests had weakened the ladders and stepladders.

These are tough tests. But the standard has been around for many years, so manufacturers have had plenty of time to design products that comply with it.

Ladder test results

We recommend 5 models from our test of 9 ladders.

To find out which ladders are a rung above the rest, upgrade to a [Gold or Silver] membership.

Stepladder test results

Only 1 stepladder passed all our safety tests.

To find out which one made the cut, upgrade to a [Gold or Silver membership].

Ladder safety

Here are some safety points to consider when using a ladder or stepladder.

  • Check your ladder before using it. Never use a ladder with missing, broken or loose parts – it’s just not worth the risk.
  • When you’re setting up a ladder, make sure it’s on a firm and even surface. It’s even better to secure the base of the ladder.
  • Always keep 3 points of contact when climbing a ladder (for example: both feet and a hand). Never over-reach sideways.
  • Ladders are not designed as working platforms. For big jobs such as painting walls, look at using scaffolding … or hire a professional.
  • Chairs are for sitting on, not standing on. You need to reach up high? Use a stepladder.
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