If you’re a professional tradesperson, transporting your ladder safely is arguably just as vital a skill as safely using it. Ladders that aren’t properly secured run the risk of suffering damage in transit, which could affect their integrity and safety to use. That’s not even to mention the risk they might pose to other road users, should they rattle about or even slip off the vehicle entirely when it’s on the road.

Finally, properly securing your ladder deters thieves when your vehicle is parked – which is never a pleasant surprise to return to! In this week’s post here at Browns, we’re running you through the best ways to protect yourself from all that.

Our top tips for safe transportation of your ladder

Obviously, if you’ve got an extension ladder or one with a similar sort of construction you’ll need to close it fully and properly before you secure it to the vehicle’s roof. Ladders of a certain size might require you to draft in some help to carry it onto the vehicle’s roof. Even if you don’t think you need any, try to look at it objectively – it’s going to be faster to get some help in the first place than it is to learn your lesson by injuring yourself without it.

Particularly, for extension ladders more than 5 metres in section length, or ladders weighing more than 18kg, make sure you don’t attempt them alone. Whether you’re lifting it alone or not, make sure to bend your knees when you lift, and take the pressure off your lower back.

Now, when loading it onto the vehicle:

1. Create a buffer

First of all you’ll want to form a buffer that protects both your car’s roof and the ladder itself. If you’ve already got a proper roof rack, this issue is already sorted. If you haven’t, then pillows, foam or a thick blanket (placed between the ladder and the roof) will all do the job equally well.

carrying a ladder

2. Secure the ladder firmly

Naturally, this is a particularly vital step. Once the ladder has been carefully laid on the roof (against the roof rack or between the bars), you’ll need to secure it at both the top and lower end using clamps, ropes or bungee cords. While any of these could feasibly do the job, we’d particularly recommend specialised ladder clamps. This is a lot to do with the security eyelets on each clamp, which enable you to fasten your own padlocks through the arm and horizontal clamp bar. Not only does this effectively guard against your ladder moving around too much or suffering damage, but it’s also great at deterring thieves when your vehicle is parked.

3. Test to make sure it’s secure

This is a step that many overlook when transporting their ladder for the first time, but we think that’s actually the most important time to do it. Once your ladder is secured, it’s an excellent idea to take your vehicle on a short test drive to check that the ladder isn’t shifting about on top of it. If you’re lucky enough to find a wide, isolated space such as a mostly empty car park, you can perform some sharp turns and hard braking to ensure that it’s staying firmly secure.

Finally, it’s vital to ensure that you’re well within the overhang requirements for your ladder. If not, you might well be breaking the law by taking it out onto the road.

What’s the law on overhanging loads? (This includes ladders!)

Rear overhang:

Less than 1m: No requirements

Between 1m and 2m:


You must render the overhang clearly visible at both ends, ideally by marking it with a bright red cloth or a high-vis vest. By law, it has to be clearly visible within a reasonable distance to a person using the road.


Between 2m and 3.05m:


You need rear and side marker boards (400mm to 1700mm from the ground) to alert other road users to the overhang.


Over 3.05m:


In addition to the marker board, you need an attendant (or driver’s mate) and you must give the police two working days’ notice.


Front overhang/projections:


Less than 2m:


No requirements


Between 2m and 3.05m:


You need rear and side marker boards (400mm to 1700mm from the ground) to alert other road users to the overhang. You also need an attendant, or driver’s mate.


Over 3.05m:


In addition to the marker boards, you again need an attendant (or driver’s mate) and you must give the police two working days’ notice.

Never forget that aside from keeping other road users safe, one of the main objectives of safely transporting your ladder should always be to protect it from any sort of damage. If its integrity is affected in any way, you could be putting yourself in danger each time you use it, even without realising. If you’re using a ladder that you know for a fact is well past its prime, it’s often not worth taking the risk.

Here at Browns, we’ve got a huge range of ladders and access equipment for almost any job imaginable. Our solid, dependable range of extension ladders are great for working at exceptional height. Meanwhile, our range of stepladders includes both aluminium and fibreglass variants, making them a fantastic addition to a tradesman’s toolbox.