• Over 50 years supplying the widest choice
  • Free next day delivery over £70 ex. VAT*
  • Order hotline and friendly advice. Call: 01452 520 144

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  Although we try to keep it current, it is not a thorough explanation and may be out of date in some areas as standards are constantly changing.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

NEW LADDER STANDARDS ..... in 2019 the UK dropped the previous BS Class 1 & Class 3 standards as described below and adopted the new, recently revised European Standard EN131-2 (known in UK as BS EN131-2).  

Consequently, during the current transition period Class 1 & Class 3 ladders will gradually cease to be available as manufacturers change over and stockists sell out of them.

The new EN131-2 standard has two versions - PROFESSIONAL (for workplace use) & NON-PROFESSIONAL (for domestic use only) but both will have the same 150kg / 23.5 stones maximum loading capacity.  

None of this will affect the use of existing ladders made to the older BS & EN131 standards.  These can continue to be used with the acceptance of the HSE until the end of their natural life.  Please email or ring us for further information.    


The old UK standards for 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.


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.

  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). [currently in the process of being changed]
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

100% Secure Shopping Visa Mastercard Maestro PayPal