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Ladders are very important, that much you can assert to without much persuasion. Their functions and versatility are pretty much evident in our daily lives and the rate of our individual needs for the different ladders available to us are all different.

What Is a Ladder

A ladder is primarily used for climbing up and down the length of anything ranging from a tree, a rock, or a building. The ladder has proven to be quite useful and it is important in a lot of lines of profession like painting, electrical repairers, plumbing, and a lot of handymen find ladders very handy.

A ladder is a piece of equipment or an instrument that is made up of a row of steps or bars of steps. The bars are held tightly in place by two long bars on the sies of the ladders. In simpler terms, a ladder is a series of steps held together by long poles on either side.

A ladder can be made with wood, rope, or metal. There are two distinct classes of ladders;

  1. The rigid ladder: This type of ladder is the most commonly used for handy jobs and professional jobs when climbing up and down is required. The rigid type of ladder is a self-supporting type of ladder that can stand on its own or support straight up against a wall. These are usually made with wood, fiberglass, or metals.
  2. The non-rigid ladder: These types of ladders are not self-supporting and they can roll or fold up into a smaller version of themselves. These types of ladders have to be hung from the top of a rigid surface and dropped down to enable the climber to climb up and down. These are usually made with either ropes or aluminum.                

The History and Invention of The Ladder

It is historically estimated that ladders were first used about 10,000 years ago, this deduction was arrived at when the first-ever picture of ladders was discovered in spider caves located in Valencia, Spain. Inside the cave, there was a Mesolithic rock with the painting of a ladder on it. 

The painting portrayed 2 men using a ladder to climb up and harvest honey from a bee nest. The ancient ladder was made with a makeshift material that looked like dried-up grass from the painting. 

This painting is the first-ever evidence of the existence of a form of a ladder. However, some historians claim that ladders have always existed before then, after all, biblically, a ladder was also mentioned in the bible. 

The Egyptians and the Hebrew cultures are said to be the cultures that built on the design of the ladder as we know it today. As time passed, different types of ladders were designed and built for varying purposes. 

Also, the first hinged step ladder was invented in 1862 by one John Basely. The hinges on the step ladder were an innovative idea to allow users to fold their ladders after usage.                      

Uses of A Ladder

Due to the development and evolution of man, safety and consciousness of occupational hazards have also taken a deeper turn. People and businesses have come up with safer and slower ways of climbing heights without using a ladder. A popular example is the use of scaffolds, and erecting a scaffold takes a lot of time and money. The fact that a lot of individuals and businesses will not be able to afford the time and resources needed to use an alternative, requires that the ladder will always be in demand. Like I said before, the ladder is very handy, easy to use, and very easily accessible. They are extremely important in cases of emergencies. They are practical and very affordable.

Ladders are only used when a person is trying to reach or perform a task somewhere beyond reach either above him/her or beneath the ground level. I listed some of the uses of ladders;

  • Gardening and farming
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Cleaning
  • Plumbing
  • Mining
  • Extraction from beneath the ground
  • Leaving or climbing up a helicopter
  • Electrical repairs, etc.

There are so many uses of ladders that some of them could even overlap each other. Essentially, what I am trying to say is that there are over a dozen uses of ladders and we cannot possibly cover all of them in this article. This is why you need to understand when to use a ladder. And like I mentioned before, a ladder to used to reach something that is naturally beyond our reach like a treetop or the roof of a house.

Types of Ladders 

Remember when I mentioned the 2 classes of ladders at the beginning of the article? No? They are the rigid ladder and the non-rigid ladder. Well, this is different. The types of ladders can either fall under the umbrella of the 2 classes of ladders. Different ladders are designed and created for different uses and purposes. And some of them include;

  1. Platform Ladders:   

Platforms ladders are great when the users need to use both of their hands for the project that they are working on like painting when they hold the bucket of paint in one hand and the brush in the other hand. A platform ladder is a type of front-step ladder that has a wide platform on the last step to provide a comfortable footing for the user to perform their task without their legs getting tired after a while. This ladder type offers both comfort and safety.

  1. Folding Ladders:

As the name indicates, this type of ladder has a folding functionality that makes storing it when not in use easier and more convenient. Ideally, this type of ladder is used for handy jobs like fixing or changing a light bulb or climbing to the roof of a building to fix a leak. It is also commonly used to climb up to the attic of a building. The ladder is lightweight and easily easy to manage.

  1. Step Stools:

Technically, this is a ladder but it is referred to as a step stool because it has platform steps in place of the bar steps. This type of ladder is a mini-ladder that is commonly used around the home, especially in rooms with high cabinets like the kitchen, the library, or the garage/storage room. They have a limited number of platform steps, usually 2 -3 but they are very convenient to use and store very easily.

  1. Extension Ladders:                       

An extension ladder, like the name indicates, is the type of ladder that can extend to a high reach. The ladder is made up of 2 components, the base, and the fly. The base is the part of the ladder that cannot be moved, while the fly is the extendable part of the ladder. During usage, the base of the ladder has to be planted firmly on flat and stable ground and leaned against a support structure because the extension ladder is not a self-supporting ladder. Then, the fly part of the ladder is extended to reach the height the user wants.

  1. Multi-Purpose Ladders:  

This ladder is a varied dimensional ladder that can be used for several different purposes, hence its name. It can be used as a front step and twin step ladder (Continue to read to learn about these), and an extension ladder. Essentially, this means that it can also serve as a self-supporting ladder and a none self-supporting ladder. It has a lot of joints and hinges that allow users to bend or modify it into any desired type of ladder.

  1. Step Ladders:

Out of all the ladders, this is the most used and it is very versatile, the ladder can be used in almost any situation. These types of ladders are self-supporting ladders that do not need to be leaned against a wall or any other hard surface. They can be used anywhere in the house or the workplace. This ladder has 2 primary types of ladders under it and they are;

  • Twin step ladder: If you guessed this ladder was named after its design and purpose you are absolutely right. The twin-step ladder has bars on either side of the ladder. The ladder can be used simultaneously by two people standing on both sides of the ladder. This ladder is convenient and easy to maintain but it may not be the easiest ladder to store from the ones that have been mentioned previously.
  • Front step ladder: Unlike the twin step ladder, the front step ladder has only one functional rung side of the ladder that can be used for climbing. The other upper end of the ladder is used for support and securing the footing of the ladder and the safety of the user. 

Safety Tips

The ladder might seem very harmless and easy to use, this is not false but only if used correctly. There are certain safety precautions you have to employ before using a ladder and while using it. Failure to follow through with some of these important steps could lead to some serious occupational hazards. Some of them are;

  • Understand the weight capacity and the limitation of your ladder; there are light, heavy, and medium-duty ladders
  • Understand the different parts and how they all function
  • When using a none self-supporting ladder, make sure the base is planted firmly on the ground and it is not wobbly
  • Store in a safe place when not in use; wooden ladders especially should be protected from water and dust
  • Use either fiberglass or wooden ladder when doing some electrical work that could prove to be very exposing

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As we have discovered, ladders are important and very versatile. Their purpose cannot be underrated and they are here to stay. Ladders vary in size according to function and quality. I would advise that before purchasing a ladder, take note of the weight capacity and the primary material of the ladder. This will direct you on ways to care for your ladder as well as direct you on how to utilize it safely.  

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