Ladder Load Capacity Guide

The load capacity is the maximum weight load that a ladder can bear, previously known as the ‘duty rating’, and is designed to cover both the person using the ladder and their tools and equipment. All ladders made and sold in the UK and the European Union need to be manufactured to specific standards, as well as being correctly classified and labelled for use.

Ladders are classified according to strength and durability, and are rated with a suggestion of the types of applications they are suited for. These classifications can help you to choose the right ladder for the job, as well as have an understanding of how secure and safe they will be. No ladder should be sold to you without clear classification and maximum load, so steer clear of any offers made to you without this published information.

Recent revisions were made to the testing and certification of ladders (BS EN131) according to the ladder association –

“EN131 improves ladder safety by making ladders wider, stronger and sturdier. British Standards BS 2037 and BS 1129 (often referred to as Class 1 and Class 3 ladders) are no longer available and you can no longer buy ladders made to these withdrawn standards. All ladders should now be designed and manufactured to the current EN 131 standard only.”
More info can be found at

The Ladder Association

Ladders are now classed as either Non-Professional or Professional. Non professional ladders are to be used only for domestic purposes, whereas professional ladders are intended for use in the workplace. Below are the previous classifications used for identifying ladders. These may still be in use whilst manufacturers make the relevant changes. As a quick guide, here’s how the old classifications are now know. 

EN131 + BS2037/BS1129 Class 1
These are now referred to as EN131 Professional

BS2037 + BS1129 Class 3
These are now referred to as EN131 Non Professional

Class III Domestic Ladders – Red badge or rubber feet

These are classified for use in DIY and home improvement. Produced in a thin aluminium and lighter and weaker than other types of ladders, they are designed solely for occasional use in the home. It is against health & safety legislation to use them commercially and doing so will usually invalidate insurance policies for accidents at work, so be careful.

  • Max. load: 125kg

EN131 Trade Ladders – Green badge or rubber feet

Trade ladders should be tested and certified to EN131-2. These type of ladders go through rigorous testing to make sure they are fit for purpose, with Lyte ladders undergoing durability tests of 50,000 cycles.

EN131 certified ladders are required for trade or professional work. The following must always be ensured by duty holders:

  • Height work must be fully planned and organised
  • Anyone carrying out height work must be competent to conduct the tasks
  • Only use appropriate equipment that has been inspected and maintained
  • Risk assessment must be completed for the height work planned and steps should be taken to eliminate risks
  • Some trade ladders are now required to feature stabiliser bars stabiliser bar. These help to reduce the risk of sideways slips and give a larger and safer footprint.

These ladders are classified for use by tradesmen or for regular home use. They are constructed from thicker aluminium than Class 3 ladders and this is the classification that is most popular in the UK.

  • Max. load: 150kg

Class I Industrial Ladders – Blue badge or rubber feet

Built for commercial and industrial use, these are the heaviest and strongest ladders available. They are designed for heavy site work but can be used anywhere, including in the home. Tough and durable, they also come in the biggest range of sizes and you have the option of rope operation if you choose.

  • Max. load: 175kg

Other classifications

Further to these broad classifications, there are also British Standards that apply to specific types of ladders.

BS 1129:1990 applies to timber ladders, steps and trestles.

BS 2037:1994 applies to metal and aluminium types.

These standards govern dimensions, marking and safety testing requirements that include torsion, rigidity, straightness, loading and other specifications.

For further information on access equipment or choosing the right ladders for your workplace or commercial environment, speak to one of our advisors, who can provide in-depth product knowledge on all of our items. 

Related Articles:

Ladder Safety In The Workplace

An Extensive Guide To Steps and Ladders

What Is Health And Safety At Work?