What Do Ladder Colors Mean – ANSI & CSA Color Code Explained

Colors are beautiful to look at. They make things so much more attractive to look at, don’t they? I bet you also didn’t think that they could mean something deeper than simply making things look beautiful right?

Well do they, colors could mean so much more than you think, and in this article, we would dissect some of the meaning of colors on ladders.    

What Do Ladder Colors Mean

What Do Ladder Colors Mean

Now, ladders are color-coded to mean different things, one of the common ones is that color codes help to identify ladder capacity.

Ladder capacities are grouped under three basic titles and they are; lightweight duty, medium weight duty, and heavyweight duty. Some color codes could also just directly identify the weight carrying capacity of the ladder.

ANSI Ladder Color Codes

ANSI means American National Standards Institute and they are in charge of monitoring the standards and conformity assessments in America.

In this section, we will look at the ANSI color codes for safety especially because we are dealing with ladders.

And as we all know, ladders, despite being a safe method of reaching high heights, they could get dangerous really quickly.

These colors are orange, red, green, yellow, blue, gray, purple, white, and black. They also have a combination of white, black, or yellow.

These colors as safety identifiers mean the following things;

  • Orange: This color signifies that the equipment or the sign is dangerous or is made of high energy.
  • Red: This means danger sign and it’s a color code for fire equipment. It is also a sign to show that something contains liquids that are flammable. It is also used as a color for stop signs or buttons.
  • Yellow: This color code is to depict a cation sign or a ‘be careful sign’. An example is to show a falling or a tripping sign. You would typically find signs like this that show that thunder strikes in a particular region.
  • Green: The color green is a code for safety or to identify that you can get help like in the case of first-aid
  • Blue: This color code shows that there is no immediate information safety issue, like in the case of property policy
  • White, Black, Grey, Purple, and the other combination colors I mentioned before are color codes that their meaning and significance are determined by the user.             

The OSHA color codes also do the same thing that the ANSI color code does; identify safety equipment and safe zones in general. However, OSHA adopted the ANSI color codes.

Ladder Color Ratings

Like I said at the beginning of the article, ladders are color-coded to help users or buyers identify the weight carrying capacity of the ladder or its duty rating.

The two most commonly used ladders, extension ladders, and step ladders are divided into 4 groups and they are;

  1. Professional ladders
  2. Industrial ladders
  3. Household ladders, and
  4. Commercial ladders         

Ladder color ratings simply mean that the color of the ladder signifies the weight carrying capacity and in turn the working duty of the ladder. A ladder’s working duty can either be any of the following;

  1. Light duty
  2. Medium duty, and
  3. Heavy-duty ladders                  

This section of the article is to explain the different ratings ladders are grouped under, now let’s take a more in-depth look.

Louisville Ladder Color Code  

This brand of ladders was the first to color-code their ladders to explain the weight carrying capacity of their ladders in the equipment industry.

The Louisville ladder majors in the production of platform ladders, extension ladders, and step ladders.

Red: The color red has a weight carrying capacity of 200 pounds, this is inclusive of the extra tools that the user might be carrying.

Green: This color has a weight carrying capacity of 225 pounds

Yellow: Yellow has a weight carrying capacity of 250 pounds

Orange: This color has a weight carrying capacity of 300 pounds

Black: The Louisville black color code has a weight carrying capacity of 375 pounds, the highest load-carrying ladder they have yet. This ladder can be used for industrial construction.  

The Louisville ladder color code manual also has other instructions including the materials used for making each ladder and what they are safe to be used on.

Ladders made with aluminum should not be used for any tasks where the user would come in contact with electricity.

The top advantages of using this ladder material type are that it is resistant to corrosion and it’s durable.

On the other hand, fiberglass can be used for electrical work because it is non-conductive and resistant to several weather conditions.

This ladder is durable and strong and it can be used for several heavy-duty construction works.

Although Louisville ladders were the first to color-code their ladders, other ladder companies have since joined in this innovative method to be safer and efficient.

Let’s take a look at another very popular ladder company’s color code.

Read More: How Much Does a Ladder Weigh

Werner Ladder Color Code

This brand of ladders color-coded their ladders to identify load capacity and their color codes is particularly unique because they color-coded their ladders to identify load capacity by the different ladder types and the ladder material.

For example, an extension ladder made with fiberglass could have a different color in comparison to a fiberglass stepladder.

So, we would have to look at the color codes in the different ways they may vary. But first, let me explain the different parts of the ladder that are color-coded.

Werner Extension Ladders

This brand of extension ladders that are made with aluminum has their color codes signified on the base, caps, and ropes of the ladder.

The fiberglass extension ladder of this brand has its color codes on the frames of the ladder.

Werner Step Ladders

For step ladders, the same rules apply. The aluminum step ladders have their bases, caps/top caps colored to signify the color codes. Step ladders made with fiberglass have their frames colored.

Werner Color Codes for Step Ladders and Extension Ladders Made with Fiberglass

  • Yellow: This is the highest load-carrying capacity from this brand type. The color is coded with the ANSI code type IAA and it has a load-carrying capacity of 375 pounds
  • Orange: This color, like the first one, was also color-coded after the ANSI code but with a type IA. It has a weight carrying capacity of 300 pounds  
  • Blue: The color blue has a weight carrying capacity of 250 pounds. This was coded with the ANSI code type I
  • Green: Green has a weight carrying capacity of 225 pounds. This was coded with the ANSI code type II
  • Red: Red has the lowest load capacity for this category with a weight carrying capacity of 200 pounds. This was coded with the ANSI code type III  

Read More: Can A Fiberglass Ladder Be Repaired

Werner Color Codes for Step Ladders and Extension Ladders Made with Aluminum

  • Yellow: This is the highest load-carrying capacity from the aluminum brand type. The color is coded with the ANSI code type IAA and it has a load-carrying capacity of 375 pounds
  • Black/Orange: This color, like the first one, was also color-coded after the ANSI code but with a type IA. It has a weight carrying capacity of 300 pounds. When these ladders were first manufactured the pads or caps of this ladder were colored black but recently, some of them are colored orange 
  • Blue: The color blue has a weight carrying capacity of 250 pounds. This was coded with the ANSI code type I
  • Green: Green has a weight carrying capacity of 225 pounds. This was coded with the ANSI code type II
  • Red: Red has the lowest load capacity for this category with a weight carrying capacity of 200 pounds. This was coded with the ANSI code type III 

These are what the different Code Types mean;

  • Type IAA (Extra heavy-duty) – 375 lbs. or pound
  • Type IA (Extra heavy-duty) – 300 lbs.
  • Type I (Heavy duty) – 250 lbs.
  • Type II (Medium duty) – 225 lbs.
  • Type III (Light duty) – 200 lbs. 

Are All Ladders Color-Coded?

Unfortunately, not all ladders are color-coded. Some people still follow the old method of simply asking for the weight capacity of the ladder before purchase.

Some manufacturers do not feel compelled to use the ANSI safety color codes. Although they are innovative and more efficient, they are not used everywhere.

Before purchasing a ladder, be sure to go for a brand that is conscious of the ANSI or OSHA rules and guidelines.   

What Are the Different Ladder Grades?

CSA is the Canadian Standards Association standard Z11-12. They are the agency primarily in charge of recommending different ladder lengths of ladder ratings.

They have 3 grades of ladders and these grades have different lengths, capacities, and functionalities.

There are three (3) different grades of the CSA ladder grades, however, grade 1 has two different subtexts and in this section of the article, we will take a look at all of them.

  • Grade 1AA: This grade type typically has a load capacity of 375 pounds and a length of 12 feet. It is a special duty ladder that can be used for industrial and construction purposes
  • Grade 1A: This grade has a load capacity of 300 pounds and a length of 20 feet. It is an extra heavy-duty ladder that is used for construction and industrial purposes
  • Grade 1: This grade has a load capacity of 250 pounds and a length of 20 feet. It is a heavy-duty ladder that is used for construction and industrial purposes
  • Grade 2: This ladder has a length of 12 feet and it is typically used by tradesmen and for farm work. It has a load capacity of 225 pounds
  • Grade 3: The maximum length of this ladder is 6 and a half feet and has a weight carrying capacity of 200 pounds. It is a light-duty ladder that should typically only be used for household tasks  

Conclusion

Next time, when you are in the market for a ladder, you will be equipped with more useful knowledge and know-hows. Always be guided by the color-codes and the CSA standards for ladder grades.      

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