Are Telescopic Ladders Safe?

A lot of people are dubious about whether telescopic ladders are safe.

They do not look as safe and strong as a tradition extendable ladder and relatively speaking, are still quite new to the market compared to how long traditional ladders have been around.

Is the telescopic mechanism safe? Can you trust an extending ladder that is made of lightweight metal and plastic to be strong enough to hold your weight?

Read on to find the answers to these questions and more:

Are telescopic ladders strong enough?

Modern telescopic ladders are made of lightweight materials that are also very strong.

From researching different brands, there seems to be a majority of telescopic ladders with a 100kg – 150kg maximum weight limit.

(This is often the safe weight limit for standard and tradition extension ladders. Which people tend to perceive as being safer.

What are telescopic ladders made from?

Many of the telescopic ladders I have researched are made from an aluminium, aluminium alloy or T5 aluminium structure.

Some of the parts (usually the joints) are made from a strong moulded plastic. (Again this is similar the the locking mechanism on a traditional extension ladder – where the locking latch is usually made of very durable plastic.)

The MOST important thing to avoid having any problems is to thoroughly read the instruction manual that comes with your ladder.

How do I use a telescopic ladder?

Not all of these ladders are exactly the same.

Be sure you read the specific instructions on setting up and taking down your telescopic ladder, this will tell you any specific information you need to know in relation to the locking mechanism and release catch.

Some have different ways of opening and locking. You will need to double check the instructions for your specific ladder before use, so as not to damage the safety locking mechanisms on each rung.

Usually, the key information on how to set up the ladder and how to put the ladder away is on a label which is visible on the ladder itself to remind you of how to safely set it up.

(Along with important information on maximum weight loads too.)

Setting the ladder up in the wrong way or using it incorrectly are usually the reasons for incidents.

Telescopic ladders, when bought from a reputable seller, with consistently positive feedback and reviews should work perfectly well, when used correctly and safely.

-If you don’t know exactly how your ladder works, you may end up with trapped fingers or even a collapsed ladder at worst!

If you follow the instructions exactly, you should have absolutely no problems.

Can I trust the cheap telescopic ladders I have seen online that are not branded?

Whilst sellers of ladders online may claim that their ladder has passed the necessary European safety test (European EN 131 certification), there have been cases in the past where ladders have been tested by trading standards and they have actually failed these tests.

(Even though online, they claim to have passed all the necessary safely tests.)

There was a huge problem with substandard telescopic ladders being sold back in 2017. They were investigated and fined.

You can read more about the investigation, the ladders which were recalled and the fines that were given to these dodgy companies by trading standards here.

What should I look out for to avoid buying a cheap import without safety certificates?

The internet is a wonderful place where not much can be hidden in terms of selling substandard products.

People have the ability to leave reviews for products – which means that companies selling through sites such as ebay and amazon will not be able to sell substandard products without being discovered very quickly.

Always look to make sure that the product meets the European EN 131 certification. All independent businesses who are based in the UK who sell ladders will only sell ladders that pass this certification.

For example, BrownsLadders, Ladderstore, Wickes, Homebase, Worhan, Travis Perkins etc.

The ones to watch out for are sellers who sell ladders through sites such as amazon and ebay, where the ladder is unbranded, you are not sure where they are based – (outside of UK?).

Also, look out to see if copy (the information text) looks fabricated or just not quite right. – This can be a warning sign that the ladder may be a cheap import.

Ultimately if you follow these steps, you should be fine.

  • Do some research before buying – we will never recommend a bad ladder on this site, but have a look around other sites too and read reviews of the ladders on sites like amazon on ebay too for more confidence.
  • Buy from a reputable company.
  • Always follow the specific guidelines for the ladder you have, each one may operate slightly differently.
  • Don’t immediately go for the cheapest option – there may be a ladder that is significantly better quality for just a few pounds more.
  • Look for signs of quality – such as the supporting bar at the bottom of the telescopic ladder which makes the ladder stronger and less wobbly.

How to use a telescopic ladder safely.

  • Always make sure you check each rung has locked in place before attempting to use, they usually ‘click’.
  • Open from the bottom if not using the full height of the telescopic ladder. (If you open only the top section, the ladder may well collapse.)
  • Telescopic ladders are quite lightweight, so maybe tie it up or stabilise it in some way against a solid surface before using it.
  • Never try to adjust the locking mechanism whilst the ladder is in use.
  • Always take care when retracting the ladder, some telescopic ladders fold down very quickly if you don’t guide them. If the ladder shuts down too quickly, the impact could potentially damage the locking mechanisms, damaging the ladder.
  • Always make sure the ladder is clean and dry, many telescopic ladders come with a carry bag for this reason.
  • Keep the ladder clean, but don’t oil the mechanism unless your instruction manual specifically tells you to.
  • Check to see if your telescopic ladder needs a support bar attaching at the bottom for extra stability before use.