Ladders are like any other tool - they get worn over time and eventually something breaks on them. The difference with ladders is that it can put you at serious risk when they do. For that reason alone, it’s important to inspect them on a regular basis to look for problems to ensure they don’t break apart while you’re on them. It seems like an obvious point, but a leading cause of accidents at work is still falling from height, and a significant cause of visits to the Accident & Emergency ward at local UK hospitals. So, how do you know when the time is right to replace your ladder?

How old is the ladder?

The first aspect you’ll have to consider is the age. How old is the main ladder that you’re using? If it’s only a few months old or less than a year or two, you’re probably fine. It will need to be given the once-over every new day that you use it, but it’s certainly not old yet. However, the older the ladder is, the more of a watchful eye you’ll need to keep on it.

How much use has the ladder had?

There’s a major difference between a ladder that’s infrequently used, and one that’s three years old, gets used and thrown around roughly every day. The amount of roughhousing and general wear on a regularly used ladder is at least as important as just the age alone, arguably even more so.
Has it been subjected to any serious impacts?

Has the ladder ever slid down a side wall and onto the ground?

With a metal ladder, it’s easy for a metal rung to have worked loose in such a fall, or the structural integrity of the ladder could come into question following a significant hit. This damage can also arise from less commonly-anticipated causes - even driving over rough roads for several hours to get to a site can shake the ladder on the roof up enough to need to be inspected before using it. After all, they’re not indestructible!

Inspect the ladder to see if it needs replacing

Look for the obvious things first like rubberised non-slip feet that have worn out, so now the ladder slips around when first putting any weight on it. Also, see if there are any rungs or steps that you can move around just by grabbing them and applying some directional force. Movement is a sure sign of a problem with that part and reason to replace the ladder. Any steps or rungs missing is an immediate call for replacing the ladder as the chance of an accident is significantly increased.


Any cracks, serious abrasions, indentation, sharp edges or rot to wooden areas or loose screws and other shaky fixings is a major cause for concern. Any of these types of issues might seem minor, but they can eventually become a cause for a ladder failure. This is why a detailed review of each of your ladders is so important to discover any new issues you weren’t aware of before.

If you’re unsure about your ladder or ladder collection, Browns Ladders provides premium ladder inspections of up to 50 a day at a single site, giving you peace of mind when at work. And when your ladder finally does reach the end of its useful lifespan, we’ve got a huge range of reliable access equipment in stock for you to replace it, from extension ladders to stepladders all the way to specialist ladders. Browse them right here on our site or give us a call on 01282 615517 if you have any questions or need any advice.