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Scaffolds, Ladders, and Loading Ramps: What Regulations Must They Comply With and How to Choose Them

Depending on the workplace, the height of use, and the intended purpose, it is mandatory for the equipment used to comply with current regulations and safety rules. This guide will explain which decree a scaffold must comply with, which regulations govern the use of a ladder, and how to choose a loading ramp based on various factors.

Choosing Scaffolds, Ladders, and Loading Ramps

Scaffold: What It Is and What Regulations It Must Comply With

A scaffold is a mobile scaffolding composed of metal tubes and intermediate support platforms that together create different levels of work platforms at heights.
In order to be used and defined as scaffolding, all scaffolds must mandatory comply with Legislative Decree 81/08, which refers to them as "mobile tower bridges" suitable for use in short activities at low heights.

What is the UNI EN 1004:2021 Regulation

After complying with the aforementioned mandatory decree, there are additional regulations followed by certain types of scaffolds. One of these regulations is UNI EN 1004:2021, which as of December 1, 2021, replaced the previous EN1004:2005 regulation, which was withdrawn in November 2021. After that date, scaffolds that only comply with the 2005 regulation can no longer be manufactured or sold/purchased.

Consider the following factors when choosing a scaffold:

  • The load that the scaffold will have to support
  • The type of access to the work platforms (ladders, hatches, ramps)
  • The maximum height based on wind conditions
  • The ground on which the scaffold will be placed
  • Whether the scaffold will be used indoors or outdoors

Based on these elements, it will be necessary to choose, for example, whether to use a scaffold with wall anchoring or freestanding (although anchoring is always strongly recommended regardless of the type of scaffold), or evaluate the presence of stabilizers and levelers. The material of the support surface is also crucial in the choice: some scaffolds even have edging for foot support and preventing the fall of objects.

Which ladder to choose for professionals and non-professionals

First of all, when choosing the best ladder to use, it is important to keep in mind that, within each work environment, depending on the intended use, the ladders must necessarily comply with certain regulations in order to be used. Let's see together which regulations are involved.
The use of ladders is regulated by the D. Leg 81/08, which must be strictly followed in order to use the ladder in question. In addition to this decree, there are technical regulations that govern specific uses. In particular:

  • UNI EN 131-1 regulates the types of ladder, terms, and functional dimensions
  • UNI EN 131-2 regulates the requirements, tests, and marking
  • UNI EN 131-3 regulates the marking and instructions for the user
  • UNI EN 131-4 regulates transformable ladders with hinges
  • UNI EN 131-6 regulates telescopic ladders
  • UNI EN 131-7 regulates movable ladders with platforms
  • UNI EN 14183 regulates step stools
  • UNI 10401 regulates portable leaning and non-leaning ladders for industrial use
  • UNI EN 1147 regulates portable ladders for firefighting services

That being said, let's see what are the most common types of ladders and which one to choose based on the final use:

1. TELESCOPIC LADDER
is suitable for both professional and domestic use and can be extended according to needs. They are foldable, reducing the space they occupy and allowing for easy storage even in small spaces.
2. LEANING LADDER
is the most well-known model and consists of the classic ladder that leans against the wall. This type of ladder can also be longer than 5 meters.
3. EXTENSION LADDER
these are ladders designed for professional use as they are particularly suitable for intensive use. They have thicker uprights, reducing their flexion.
4. ARTICULATED LADDER
this type of ladder can be transformed according to the needs of the moment, and thanks to the presence of joints on both sides, it can also be used as a support platform.
5. DOUBLE-SIDED LADDER
this is the most practical and simple solution to use. Without any special structures, it has rungs on both sides and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
6. SCAFFOLDING LADDER
used in professional and demanding environments, it ensures maximum safety even in heavy-duty work. It provides comfort and stability to the worker thanks to the presence of stabilizers, support bars, and tread platforms.
7. AGRICULTURAL LADDER
these ladders are designed for agricultural use in sectors such as fruit picking and gardening, for example. They have a pyramid shape, with the point at the top, and trapezoidal steps that prevent excessive fatigue for the user, allowing them to reach even the most difficult points.

Characteristics to consider when choosing a ladder:

  • maximum load capacity
  • maximum height
  • support points and stability
  • material for indoor and/or outdoor use
  • shape

types of ladders on the market

Loading Ramps: How to Calculate the Minimum Required Length

For loading and unloading equipment and machinery from vehicles, ramps are the best solution. However, it is crucial to calculate their length properly because if they are too short, they may be too steep, making their use impossible or dangerous.
The recommended maximum slope is 30% (16.5°), so to choose a ramp, you only need to know the height of your vehicle's loading platform.
Let's imagine using a van with a loading platform height of 90 cm (0.9 m) from the ground.
The calculation, without too much explanation, is as follows:
the height of the platform divided by the recommended maximum slope, times 100
In other words: (0.9m : 30) x 100 = 3m (recommended ramp length).

loading and unloading ramps - how to choose the length

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