Specify a Fixed Caged Ladder for Building and Structure Access!

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Looking for a fixed caged ladder for building and structure access?  Let us help you specify the best. This is part I of a II part blog to help you specify the best.

A common question asked when specifying ladder products is what materials of construction should be used.  All fixed ladder designs specified should meet OSHA and ANSI requirements, along with the specific requirements unique for the application.  Ladders commonly specified in the marketplace are constructed of aluminum and coated carbon steel.  Stainless steel ladders typically only used in food grade applications.

What Does History Tell Us About Fixed Caged Ladder

Fixed caged ladders were first offered in coated carbon steel.  If the ladder product was provided with a HDG (hot dip galvanized) coating at 2.5 mils DFT, these ladders provided adequate service life for industrial applications.  However, aesthetics were not important.  For instance, a coated carbon steel ladder is the least expensive ladder to purchase.  Under review, it is the “other factors” that has removed it as a top contender for specification.  In today’s market, carbon steel ladder designs utilizing powder or liquid coatings are problematic.  Any sharp edge on a painted ladder component will rust within months of installation.  In many instances, repainting these ladders is more expensive than the original ladder material purchase.  This is one of the main factors that has contributed to the specification and preference for aluminum materials in fixed and caged ladder construction.

Over the last decade, aluminum construction has taken the top position in the marketplace for fixed caged ladder designs.  Relative to applications, over 90% of the applications in the municipal market now specify aluminum construction.  For building roof and structure access applications, aluminum construction has also become the preferred product of choice due to preferred aesthetics and the fact these ladder designs don’t corrode and never require painting.

In industrial applications, both aluminum and HDG carbon steel ladders are commonly specified.  Additionally, other factors to consider when specifying ladder construction includes field installation handling and associated costs.  Since aluminum ladder assemblies are lighter weight than their counterparts in carbon steel, field installation crews prefer aluminum  installation.  Lighter assemblies are safer and easier to handle in the field, which also equates to less labor costs for installation.  Additionally, a high quality aluminum caged ladder will be comparable in cost to carbon steel construction.

In comparison, Fixed Caged Ladder Construction:

Chart of Aluminum Ladder

What’s Available To Me?

Both aluminum and carbon steel fixed caged ladders are available.  They are offered online in varying quality.  Some of the import products packaged under American brand names represent some of poorest quality ladder designs available in the marketplace today.  In addition, it is highly questionable whether or not some of these products meet recognized code standards.

In cost comparisons, high quality fixed aluminum ladders may cost slightly more initially than coated carbon steel construction.  However, the payback in preventive maintenance follows within a short period of time, less than 1-2 years.   Over its life cycle costs, aluminum construction is the highly superior product choice compared to carbon steel ladder designs.

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