Telescopic Ladder Safety

Written by kevin ann reinhart
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Telescopic Ladder Safety
Regular extension ladders can be awkward to move and to store. (Ladder image by Towards Ithaca from

A regular extension ladder can be heavy, awkward and difficult to store. Stepladders are not high enough to reach some job sites. The telescopic ladder solves these problems. The side supports are tubular in design, so each 12-inch rang segment slides into the one below it. A telescopic ladder is ideal for apartment or condo dwellers, as it stores compactly in a closet or under a bed. As with any ladder, safety is important.

Telescopic Ladder Design

A telescopic ladder extends and locks by the foot so that the optimum height may be realised. The largest telescopic ladders can extend close to 16 feet. Telescopic ladders are made of aircraft-quality aluminium for lightness and strength. Their ergonomically designed latches are safe and secure when properly used and maintained. Telescopic ladders are more costly than regular step or extension ladders, but their convenience makes them a worthwhile investment.

Safety Issues

It is essential when extending a telescopic ladder to ensure that all safety latches are secure before stepping on the rungs. As with most products, there are slight design differences among telescopic ladders that make the higher-end models more secure than less costly options. Some telescopic ladders can be collapsed section by section. Less expensive models require just one latch to collapse the entire length, which can result in pinched fingers or painful falls for the unwary user.

Also, telescopic ladders should not be used around electrical wiring or during an electrical storm. That's because telescopic ladders are made of anodised aluminium are therefore good conductors of electricity.

Safety Standards

Any telescopic ladder should be safety approved according to the standards set for the product in the area in which it is purchased. For the United States, this means an American National Standards Association (ANSI) designation. For Canada, this means a prominently displayed Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approval sticker.


Telescopic ladders should be kept dry to avoid slippage problems. A ladder should be fully extended, wiped down with a dry cloth, leant against an outside wall on a dry day to air-dry and then turned to air-dry its other side. Oxidation on the ladder stiles can be recognised by a white residue on the tubular portions. Cleaning with a silicone-based lubricant followed by a thorough drying is recommended. WD-40 is not to be used, as it will dry the ladder's internal mechanism.

Solving Ladder Problems Safely

To clean paint from the ladder, an abrasive plastic sponge for removal followed by a silicon-lubricant treatment is best. Steel wool should be avoided. Hard-to-push latches should not be forced but rather cleaned with a can of compressed air, lubricated with silicone-based lubricant and dried with a dry cloth. If the ladder becomes difficult to open or close, apply silicone lubricant on every rang, close the ladder, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then open and close the ladder several times. Apply lubricant to the stiles before storing the ladder. All of these tips will avoid ladder collapse and/or pinched fingers, ensuring many years of safe operation.

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