BS Kitemarks

This page is intended as a brief outline guide to the various standards for ladders, steps and scaffold towers.  Although we try to keep it current, it is not a thorough explanation and may be out of date in some areas as standards are constantly changing.  Customers who require more detailed information should contact the British Standards Institute.

 
  Kitemarks & Standards for Ladders and Steps
 

The UK has three categories of ladder & stepladder strength -

  • Industrial Duty (BS Class 1) ladders are designed for a Maximum Static Vertical Load 175kg (27.5 stones);  Duty Rating* 130kg. The Max Static Vertical Load will sometimes be referred to as "safe working load".
  • Trade Duty (now BS EN131; previously Class 2) ladders are designed for a Maximum Static Vertical Load 150kg ( 23.5 stones); old Duty Rating* 115kg.
  • Domestic Duty (BS Class 3) ladders are designed for a Maximum Static Vertical Load 125kg (19.5 stones); Duty Rating* 95kg.

* Duty Rating  -  confusion often arises from the use of the term Duty Rating on some ladders. These figures were arrived at years ago by British Standards Institute from a consideration of the frequency and general conditions of use. They are not an accurate guide to the Safe Working Load. The "Maximum Static Vertical Load" is a more useful measure and gives a more accurate guide to relative strengths.

NOTE:
Any standard or kitemark is only a MINIMUM standard. In the UK there are many approved and kitemarked ladders and steps which just about scrape through the tests. There are many others which are built to a considerably stronger specification than the tests require. Our Trade Duty alloy ladders (code: ELT...) are a good example. They are amongst the strongest BS EN131 approved ladders in the UK and many sizes would pass the Class 1 tests. There are some other makes of Trade Duty ladders which are still approved to BS EN131 but are considerable lighter duty and are built to JUST pass the tests.

In addition, note that there are several types of ladders and steps which are not covered by any standard - Roof Ladders and Alloy Warehouse Steps for example. These are normally (but not always) made of Trade or Industrial duty materials, but cannot be kitemarked because no kitemark applies to them.

 
  Metal Ladders and Steps
KitemarkDutyWorking LoadDetails
    
BS2037
Class 1
Industrial dutyMax safe working load - 175kg (27.5 stones)
[ Duty Rating - 130kg/20.5stones
see text at top]
 
The strongest UK category. These ladders and steps are built for the most rugged and frequent use.
BSEN131 (previously BS2037
Class 2)
Trade DutyMax safe working load 150kg (23.5 stones)
[OLD Class 2 Duty Rating 115kg/18stones
but not now used see text at top]

Our old Class 2 is now replaced by the European-wide EN131standard. In the UK it is known as BS EN131. Ladders and steps manufactured on the continent which are approved to EN131 will often show the French and/or German "kitemark"
It is important to note that because there is no Class 1 and Class 3 on the continent, almost all continental ladders and steps are made to EN131. Manufacturers often subdivide this standard into several unofficial strength categories from light duty to heavy duty and produce ranges of ladders and steps of the same general design in each category. All, however, will be "EN131" standard.
Consequently some EN131 products will be just as strong as our Class 1 products and some will be much lighter duty.

BS2037
Class3
Domestic
Duty
Max safe working load 125kg (19.5 stones)
[ Duty Rating - 95kg/15.0stones
see text at top]

 
The lightest duty UK category. These ladders and steps are built for occasional use around the home. They are NOT designed for Trade and Industrial use. Using them in these circumstances may contravene the Health & Safety regulations and will probably upset Health & Safety inspectors - especially if there has been an accident with them! Insurance companies often state that using Domestic Duty ladders and steps for commercial work will invalidate claims for personal injury.

 

  Timber Ladders and Steps
KitemarkDutyWorking LoadDetails
    
BS1129
Class 1
Industrial dutyMax safe working load 175kg (27.5 stones) 
[ Duty Rating - 130kg/20.5stones see text at top]
The strongest UK category. These ladders and steps are built for the most rugged and frequent use.
BS1129
Class 2
(now BS EN131)
Trade DutyMax safe working load 150kg 23.5 stones)
[OLD Class 2 Duty Rating 10kg/17.3stones
but not now used see text at top]

Old Class 2 is now withdrawn. Very few British makes of timber ladders and steps are approved to BS EN131. The dwindling sales of these timber products means that gaining a kitemark is too costly. Many ladders and steps are still "made to" the old standard but are no longer tested, approved and kitemarked.

 

  Loft Ladders
KitemarkDutyWorking LoadDetails
    
BS7553
Class H
Heavy use

Max safe working load 150kg (23.5 stones)  -  now being replaced by BS EN14975 as below...

The strongest UK category but it is worth noting that many loft ladders in the UK are considerably stronger than this requires but are often not approved to any standard. Most are imported from the continent.
BS7553
Class G
General useMax safe working load 100kg (15.75 stones)  -  now being replaced by BS EN14975 as below...

The requirements of BS7553 Class G are not too demanding and most light Domestic Duty loft ladders will meet this standard.

BS EN14975 NEW!Max safe working load 150kg (23.5 stones)New Europe-wide loft ladder standard - just starting to be used in the UK

 

The British Standards for UK ladders are -

 
  Kitemarks for Scaffold Towers
 

The British Standard for scaffold towers is BS EN1004. This standard replaces the old BS1139: Part 3: 1994 ( also known as HD1004 ). The rest of Europe uses he same standard and they call it EN1004. This standard applies to TRADE & INDUSTRIAL duty towers. Lightweight Domestic Duty steel scaffold towers will not be made to this standard despite what a few less scrupulous suppliers may claim!

Of course, BS EN1004 is a "standard", not a legal requirement and customers are not obliged by law to use towers which are approved, although it is the policy of many companies to do so at all times.

However, "The Work at Height Regulations 2005" (WAHR) are a legal requirement on employers and anyone using equipment in the workplace, and most of the requirements of these regulations are the same as BS EN1004.

Both BS EN1004 and the Work at Height Regs require towers to have -

  • some form of ladder access to the platform ( either vertical ladders or inclined )
  • a trapdoor platform for safe access from the ladder
  • toeboards fitted around all working platforms
  • stabilisers or outriggers fitted where necessary to guard against overturning.

One of the differences though, is that the Health & Safety Executive in the UK have used the WAHR to require all users to add extra equipment to BS EN1004 specification alloy towers so that no-one has to stand on a platform without guardrails around them, especially when erecting and dismantling. This requirement is preferred by the HSE, is considered to be "Best Practice" by all in the industry and is known as the "Through-The-Trap" (or 3T for short ) assembly method and specification.
Consequently an EN1004 specification tower will not automatically include sufficient trapdoor platforms and guardrails (horizontal braces) to satisfy the HSE. Customers should check this before ordering.

Another difference is that BS EN1004 applies only to towers with a platform height from 2.5m to 12.0m (indoor use), and from 2.5m to 8.0m (outdoor use).
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 apply to all towers and all other locations from where someone could fall and injure themselves.

 

Further Information...

More detailed information is available from BSI - British Standards Institution
Tel: 0908 221166 or www.bsi-global.com

Many Health & Safety publications are available from HSE Books
Tel: 01787 881165 or www.hse.gov.uk

A list of many FREE printable HSE Information Sheets are on this website -
click here for our "PDF Download" page