SAEMA – Specialist Access Engineering and Maintenance Association – has a long history in delivering the best training and guidance in the temporary and permanent suspended access industry.
In keeping with our commitment to advancing safety through raising the standards in best practice, we keep in touch with all the latest developments – chiefly safety, worker welfare and the environment. We are pleased to share the following story from the Ladder Association (ladderassociation.org).
Unsafe and potentially dangerous ladders continue to be sold online to unsuspecting consumers in the UK, according to our new safety report.
This warning, from the Ladder Association, comes as millions of Britons prepare to spend the upcoming hat-trick of May Bank Holiday weekends doing DIY and home improvements.
The latest report is a follow on from the telescopic ladder market surveillance report undertaken by the Ladder Association in 2022, which found that over 80% of commercially-available telescopic ladders tested, failed to meet the minimum safety requirements designed to keep users safe. Worse still, this research found over half of the failed ladders were marked and sold as ‘compliant’ in a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers.
Despite ongoing campaigning, no action has been taken to improve the problem. In a bid to see if the retailers have addressed the issue, the Ladder Association re-tested a proportion of the same products¹ from last year’s study, bought from the world’s best-known online retailers Amazon and eBay, and popular online marketplace OnBuy.com.
Following identical testing procedures, every set of telescopic ladders failed the required safety tests, meaning they are non-compliant and dangerous, and proving that the earlier failures were not ‘one-offs’. The latest study also found over 80% of the ladders re-tested claimed to be compliant with product standard EN 131 – but not one of the products met the standard.
As it stands, online marketplaces selling products supplied by third-party sellers, have no responsibility for preventing unsafe goods being sold on their platforms, and no legal obligation to inform consumers if they have purchased unsafe goods. This gives rogue manufacturers and suppliers based anywhere in the world, free rein to sell unsafe – and in worst cases deadly – products direct to unsuspecting consumers in the UK. In many cases, no checks are being made at all before consumers receive the products and use them at home.
While there are manufacturers producing ladders that meet the safety standards, the study again showed that the telescopic ladders tested and sold by some of the country’s biggest online platforms, fall well below basic safety requirements. Many of these ladders appear fit for purpose and some even display bogus compliance labelling, giving customers false assurance.
Working at height can be risky enough, without the additional danger of poor-quality ladders – every 11 minutes in the UK, someone attends A&E after sustaining an injury involving a ladder2. A fall from height can cause life changing injury, and in some cases, can even be fatal.
Peter Bennett OBE, Executive Director of the Ladder Association, commented: “It is clear from our latest report that the issue of unsafe telescopic ladders available for sale on the UK market is neither new nor improving. We also know the issue is not constrained to our sector. We were joint signatories, alongside the British Toy and Hobby Association and Electrical Safety First, in an open letter to Government urging them to immediately release the long-awaited Product Safety Review.
“The Review is expected to contain proposals to protect consumers from buying dangerous products from online marketplaces. We welcome the recent Round Table³ called by Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake where he told online marketplaces they must do more to keep unsafe products off their platforms. But, until the Product Safety Review is released, consumers are being put at risk daily.
“The Ladder Association is calling for the Government to step in urgently to make regulatory changes to hold suppliers and online platforms accountable for ensuring the products they sell are compliant and safe to use. With three Bank Holiday weekends ahead – one of the most popular times for DIY and home improvements – we’re also urging people to take extra care when buying a telescopic ladder online – do your research; read the reviews and when you get it, check the ladder itself, along with all instruction manuals and labels. And if you think the ladder is unsafe or dangerous don’t use it!”
To view the latest Telescopic Ladder Surveillance Survey Report, visit: www.ladderassociation.org.uk/step-up/
Pictured: samples of the telescopic ladders tested which failed the safety tests.
1 or the closest product currently available on the market
2 Hospital data from NHS England, NHS Wales and Public Health Scotland