EN131: What to Know
Your Guide to Upcoming Changes to British Ladder Standards.
Falls from height remain a major cause of severe and occasionally fatal workplace accidents, and the diverse nature of many maintenance activities means workers are often required to use ladders for this type of work.
The reality is that anyone falling more than two meters is likely to sustain a serious injury, so even someone using a Stepladder to change a light bulb can be at risk. Legislation surrounding the use of ladders and access equipment is covered by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and this is an area where workers can never be complacent with. As of November 2017 however, current British ladder standards are being harmonised with new EN131 European standards, which will aim to reduce the amount of ladder related injuries.
The EU Certification EN131: What is EN131?
EN131 is the European Union Certificate for portable steps and ladders manufactured from metal and certain other materials. This is one of the three current standards for ladders in the UK:
• EN131 – is for trade and light industrial use.
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 – is for heavy duty and industrial use.
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 3 – is for domestic use.
What will happen in November?
Both BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 and Class 3 will be withdrawn and replaced by two new EN131 categories:
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 is replaced by EN131: ‘Professional’
• BS2037/BS1129 Class 3 is replaced by EN131: ‘Non Professional’
The new EN131 standards will introduce stabilisers on ladders over 3m, new slip and cycle durability tests, as well as tests for ladders in the position of use. Existing products will need to be independently tested and certified for compliance and labelled with the new EN131 standard.
What happens to products that do not comply?
While there is no legal requirement in the UK to follow these standards, safety bodies such as HSE, Trading Standards and Insurance Companies will expect manufacturers and main users to comply.
With the new legislation now on the horizon, it is important for businesses to now take the necessary precautions to help negate ladder related injuries. While that doesn’t necessarily mean EN131 needs to be adopted, it at least acts as a guide to what is considered to be best practice.