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Guide to Ladder Types, Heights and Platforms

Do you know what size, type and height of ladder or platform you need for a particular job? Choosing the right ladders, steps and platforms is essential for safety compliance while working at heights, so we’ve created this handy guide to help you buy the ladder that perfectly suits the task at hand. So whether you’re buying equipment for a work site or for a self-employed job, don’t buy your new ladder without first checking it’s the right one for the job.


The Working at Height Regulations 2005 came into force on 6th April 2005 and applies to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. These regulations place duties on all employers, the self-employed and any person that controls the work of others (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height). 

As part of the regulations, duty holders must ensure the following:

  • All work at height is properly planned and organised
  • Those involved in work at height are competent users
  • The risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used
  • The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled
  • Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained

Now you’re up to speed on the regulations, it’s time to choose your ladder, steps or platform. Here’s a run-down of everything you need to know about buying the right ladder height, capacity and type for your needs:



All ladders, steps and platforms come with a duty rating beginning with EN (European) or BS (British) to help you identify the level of duty each ladder is suitable for. Here’s a quick and easy table to help you identify which ladder rating you need for your job:

When selecting ladders and platforms, make sure you take into account the weight of the user plus the load they might be carrying. Look out for the below symbol, which displays the maximum safe load recommended by the manufacturer in accordance with HSE guidance.

how to choose the right ladder type - maximum weight load



What Size Ladder Do I Need and What Type Should I Buy?

Once you have made the necessary risk and safety assessments and established which duty rating you require, it’s time to choose and buy your ladder type. At PARRS we offer a wide range of ladders, steps and platforms to suit all job types. Here are the most commonly chosen ladder types and designs, plus the jobs they’re best suited to:

how to choose the right ladder type - step ladders
Choosing ladder types - combination ladders
Choosing ladder types - extension ladders

Step Ladders & Folding Steps

Step ladders are great for a multitude of lower-height access jobs, including gaining access to low levels and ceilings. Our step ladders range includes a selection of swing back and platform versions, plus a selection of foldable steps to suit a variety of needs and applications.

Combination or Multi-purpose Ladders

Combination and multi-purpose ladders are an ideal choice of ladder type when a variety of surface types are involved. They are hinged in the middle to allow the ladders to be used to stand off from uneven surfaces as a lower level step or platform. Combination ladders are also great for using on stairs, while the hinged design makes them easy to fold and store in vehicles.

Extension Ladders

Extension ladders make the perfect choice of ladder type when access to higher levels is required. These ladders often feature single, double or triple extension capabilities and can be leaned against walls to gain access. You can also find telescopic extension ladders for quick, lightweight and easy access to lower levels. Remember that the maximum recommended time working in one position is 30 minutes.

choosing ladder types - mobile steps
choosing ladder types - podium steps
choosing ladder types - access towers

Mobile Steps

Mobile steps are the ideal choice of ladder type for use in warehouse and retail applications. Where easy mobility and the safety of handrails are required, a set of mobile warehouse steps makes the ideal solution, available in varying heights and designs with hand-operated brakes for added safety and stability.

Podiums & Work Platforms

Podiums and work platforms allow the user to work safely and comfortably for a longer period of time than on extendable ladders. Users can rotate 360° due to the larger standing platform, particularly on podiums where guardrails are present for extra safety. These make the ideal choice of ladder type for carrying out more complex tasks at height.

Access Towers

Access towers are the tallest and safest option for carrying out tasks at higher levels. Resembling scaffolding, towers offer guardrails, extendable height capabilities and the largest standing platforms of all our ladder types, allowing complex tasks to be carried out safely and comfortably.

Now you know which ladder size, height and design you need, you can choose the right equipment to suit your requirements. Alternatively, if you’re still not sure which type of ladder or platform would be best, you’re welcome to speak to a member of our customer service team who can offer impartial advice to help you find the best product for your needs. Contact us on 01527 585777 for help.