Non-mechanical access equipment

This guideline applies to the use of non-mechanical access equipment such as ladders, step ladders, hop-ups, trestles, low-level access towers etc.

All portable ladders and other low-level access equipment must be designed for industrial use and compliant with BS EN 131 – Ladder and access equipment specification; available at DSGo. Home-made or improvised access equipment is prohibited unless conformity to industrial standard can be demonstrated.

Portable ladders and other low-level access equipment must be inspected before use and be subject to a formal system of periodic inspections. As a minimum all portable ladders and other low-level access equipment must be subject to:

  • Each piece of equipment identified with a unique identification number;
  • A register to record the inspections of each piece of equipment;
  • An inspection by a competent person at least every 6 months;
  • A system to identify that the equipment has been formally inspected displayed on the equipment (e.g. a ladder tag or similar sign or label);
  • Inspections must be recorded in the register;
  • User inspection before each use.

Equipment hired for short-durations must be inspected before use and every 7 days. When remaining on site for more than 1 month (4 weeks) it must be subject to the same inspection regime detailed above. A scaffold tag or similar tag or label must be displayed on the equipment.


Portable Ladders and Steps

The selection and use of a portable ladder or stepladder must be justified through risk assessment, considering:

  • Nature of the work is low risk;
  • Light duty; and,
  • The work is of short duration (30 minutes); or,
  • Existing site features cannot be altered to allow the use of safer equipment (e.g. scaffolding)

Damaged or defective ladders must not be used and must be removed from site for repair or disposal.

Example of risk assessment for the safe use of ladders:

Risk Assessment checklist for ladder safety

Download from our library

Guiding principle on working at height introduction

Other Access for working at height