Step Ladders vs Platform Ladders on the Jobsite

A 2014 study published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited ladders as being a leading cause of all workplace injuries. According to the study, an estimated 81% of construction related falls treated in the US emergency rooms involved a ladder. Large General Contractors like Turner Construction have created programs such as “Ladders Last” hoping to remove ladders complete from their job-sites or at least reduce the numbers dramatically. This trend is picking up with more and more companies, at a minimum, requiring Platform Ladders instead of Step Ladders as these have been shown to be safer and less fatigue on the user.

Louisville Ladders

The big difference in platform vs step ladders is instead of standing on a thin 3” ladder rung the user has both feet firmly planted on a 1’x1.5’ (or larger) platform. While the price is a little higher for the platform ladder it is a bit misleading when you compare the step ladders vs platform ladders because they are measured differently. Folks using a standard 8’ Step Ladder rated IA FS1508 ($127) then price out an 8’ Platform Ladder rated IA FP1508 ($212) and there is naturally a bit of a sticker shock.

Step vs Platform

The problem here is that on the Step Ladder, 8’ is the height of the ladder top, which you should never stand higher than the 2nd to the top rung. On the platform ladders the 8’ measures where the platform height is so it is a much larger ladder. Typically if you use an 8’ step ladder you would actually use a 6’ platform FS1506 ($160) which is only a small premium for the added functionality and safety of a full platform. Using a 2’ shorter rating for the platform vs step should be the right in most cases.

This is just what we are seeing as the trend on larger jobsites, and certainly we don’t think everyone is going to switch any time soon. The guys at Ohio Power Tool stock a full range of Louisville Ladders as well as other safety/fall protection and are always happy to answer any of your questions, 800-242-4424. Unfortunately ladders can be a bit tricky to ship unless you’re ordering a large enough quantity to properly freight, we recommend trying to find a local source first before going online but if you do end up purchasing online make sure to inspect the delivery very carefully, no matter who you get them from, before receiving to ensure there was no damage in transport.



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  1. Colin Greene says:

    Both of these ladders look like good options, but it definitely depends on the project that you are doing. I think that platform ladders look a bit more stable and easier to stand on. I have been trying to find some good ladders to use for a few projects around my house, but I was thinking about just getting a step ladder. It might be good for me to look at the platform ones, because that way I wouldn’t have to balance so carefully. Thanks for the great post!

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  4. Francisco Jorge Cabrita says:

    The conventional step ladder is preferred on my jobs and the tradesman are well trained to use them safely . I have not witnessed a fall during 17 years of working on building sites.The platform ladder hinders the work and the designers of this equipment need to come up with a better system,but betters systems are the sons and daughters of wars,so I see a problem here for the invention to come from the comfort of an office.The human being likes the path of least resistance.The tricycle is safe for children,the parent believes,but the child’s ambition is to ride a bicycle.In closing,the scissor lift where possible is a great safe option.

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