An Articulated Ladder is a portable ladder with one or more pairs of locking hinges which allow the ladder to be set up in several configurations such as a single or extension ladder, with or without a stand-off, a stepladder, a trestle ladder, scaffold or work table. Each pair of articulated joints in the ladder can be locked in one or more positions to accommodate the various configurations. The locking positions of the hinges allow set-up at the proper angles to accommodate each configuration that the manufacturer has designated.
An instruction label appears on each Articulated Ladder illustrating the locking hinges in both the locked and unlocked positions. Each Articulated Ladder manufacturer has a unique locking hinge design and each lock must visibly indicate whether it is locked or unlocked. As a result, it is important that the user become familiar with the proper operation of the hinge and make sure all the hinges are locked before using the ladder. Never attempt unlocking or repositioning any of the hinges while standing on the ladder.
The hinges of an Articulated Ladder require periodic lubrication. The hinges should be lubricated upon receipt of the ladder and then annually or more frequently, depending upon use. When involved in messy work, place a covering over the exposed hinge mechanisms to avoid getting contaminants into them that may cause malfunctions.
Another on-product label illustrates all the acceptable configurations for a given Articulated Ladder. Configurations not illustrated on the label are not to be used.
The size of an Articulated Ladder is determined when it is set up in the stepladder configuration by measuring along the front side rail from the bottom to the center of the hinge at the top of the ladder. When set up in the stepladder configuration, Articulated Ladders range in size from 3 to 15 feet maximum. When set up as a Single or Extension Ladder, Articulated Ladders may have a length of no more than 30 feet.
All four feet of an Articulated Ladder are covered with a slip-resistant material which must be present and in good condition before the ladder is used.
The ladder must not be used on ice, snow or slippery surfaces unless suitable means to prevent slipping is employed.
The ladder must never be placed upon other objects such as boxes, barrels, scaffolds, or other unstable bases in an effort to obtain additional height.
Articulated Ladders must not be tied or fastened together with any other type of ladder to provide a longer length.
A thorough inspection must be made when the ladder is initially purchased and each time it is placed into service. Clean the climbing and gripping surfaces if they have been subjected to oil, grease or slippery materials. Working parts, bolts, rivets, step-to-side rail connections, and the condition of the anti-slip feet (safety shoes) shall be checked.
Ladders exposed to excessive heat, as in the case of fire, may have reduced strength. Similarly, ladders exposed to corrosive substances such as acids or alkali materials may experience chemical corrosion and a resulting reduction in strength. Remove these ladders from service.
Broken or bent ladders, and ladders with missing or worn out parts must be taken out of service and marked, for example, "Dangerous – Do Not Use” until repaired by a competent mechanic or destroyed. No attempt shall be made to repair a ladder with a defective side rail. Ladders with bent or broken side rails must be destroyed.
In the event a ladder is discarded, it must be destroyed in such a manner as to render it useless. Another person must not be given the opportunity to use a ladder that has been deemed unsafe.
When transporting ladders on vehicles equipped with ladder racks, the ladders must be properly supported. Overhang of the ladders beyond the support points of the rack should be minimized. The support points should be constructed of material such as wood or rubber-covered pipe to minimize the effects of vibration, chafing and road shock. Securing the ladder to each support point will greatly reduce the damaging effects of road shock.
Storage racks for ladders not in use should have sufficient supporting points to avoid sagging which can result in warping the ladder. Other materials must not be placed on the ladder while it is in storage.
Articulated Ladder Safety Standards
Safety requirements for Construction, Performance, Use and Care of Articulated Ladders can be found in the following standards: