Lisa Richardson, Product Manager (Ladders) for Werner, gives us a rundown of the right ladders for the right application.
Whether you’re wallpapering, painting, working on stairs or decorating the exterior of a property, few ladders will be suitable for every job.
Preparation is essential regardless of the job at hand, and where decorating is concerned, having the correct tools for the right application will set the foundations for a safe and productive working environment.
Granted, it may not be wholly practical to keep a raft of different ladders in the van at all times, but for certain tasks, whether it’s working on stairs, at height or for electrical works, it’s essential that the necessary safety precautions are taken into account and that the right ladder is used to facilitate best practice.
For more run-of-the-mill interior decorating work, the requirements for ladder safety are no less stringent, despite the fact that users will not likely be working at extreme heights. With safety always of paramount importance, a number of key product considerations should be taken into account at point of purchase.
Such considerations might include whether the ladder is equipped with secure non-slip treads, is it the right size, the right material, does it have a secure standing platform with ample standing space, and is the ladder equipped with a high safety handrail? Also, it’s important that the user always has three points of contact regardless of the job they’re doing.
Some of these factors might seem obvious, but it’s important to press home such issues. Load capacity is another consideration, and the user should factor in his/her weight, the type of paints being used and the tools tasked to carry out the job – all of which will have a bearing on load capacity.
Werner’s lightweight aluminum stepladder series, for example, features a load capacity of 150kg and is available with additional benefits such as integrated work trays and an extra-large standing platform on certain models (705Series Workstation Stepladder), so these could be a few options to consider for interior decorating projects.
Where internal jobs do involve some electrical work, a fibreglass ladder is essential to ensure user safety. In the US, fibreglass ladders now account for over 50 per cent of the entire ladder market, and the popularity of the material for all jobs (not just for work in electrical and conductive environments) is on the rise, rooted in the material’s strength and versatility.
For all electrical work, the ladder must have non-conductive fibreglass stiles to help negate the risk of shock. The popularity of fibreglass goes beyond just safety considerations, though.
An example of which is Werner’s trade quality fibreglass swingback stepladder, which continues to be a popular with the trade thanks to its generous 298mm tread pitch, slip-resistant treads, holster top with specially designed tool holders and EDGE bracing for added protection against knocks and damage.
All Werner fibreglass stepladders come with a holster top, which allows the user to add unique Lock-In accessories, these include paint cups, job buckets, job caddies and tool lassos, which will enables the user to customise their ladder top to meet their working needs.
Another working area where added caution must be taken is when decorating on or above a flight of stairs. In this instance, a multi-purpose ladder with a locking hinge system is recommended.
A good quality multi-purpose ladder will allow the user to safely paint areas above or around stairs. Werner’s ‘click-lock’ hinge system, for example, can help optimise safety, as it can be quickly and safely adjusted to allow for reach from the bottom to the top of a flight of stairs.
Many multi-purpose ladders will also be compact and easy to store, with simple folding dimensions to facilitate neat and practical storage when not in use.
For external decorating jobs, the requirements from a ladder will naturally be focused around maximising safety and security when working at height. Safety aside, it is also important that the ladder is capable of facilitating a range of different tasks, so a combination ladder could be considered over a standard extension ladder for external works.
Extension plus models combine a large stepladder, an extension ladder, a stairwell ladder and a freestanding extension ladder all in one product. This type of product allows the user to carry out the more commonplace tasks, such as painting external walls, but also more challenging jobs where added support is required.
Werner’s ExtensionPLUS X4 model includes a number of key features that help facilitate good working practice, namely a manual thumb operated locking catch to prevent ladder section separation and an additional opening restraint bar for increased safety; so it could be an option worth considering for tradesmen looking for a more versatile product.
Whatever the task, safety when at height is paramount. Yet, usability and practicality are naturally key factors in the buying decision, so the right ladder must help facilitate an effective working environment. Ladders should also be complete with ample space to work and appropriate accessories built in; factors that will ultimately aid productivity and help boost the bottom line.