Platform Ladder (formerly Painter’s-Mate) from Easi-Dec
An independent review by Peter Brett, of Tool Business + Hire Magazine, June 2011
There are some who decry “Elf and Safety” as a waste of time, money and effort. While this may be true for some things, I think the Working at Height Regulations are a genuine step towards protecting workers who have to get off ground level. This may have something to do with the personal experience of falling off a ladder about ten years ago, but I also think that the regulations have enabled some innovative companies to come up with a range of amazing (and much safer) ways of working at height.
The Platform Ladder (Painter’s-Mate) from Easi-Dec is just one of these inventions – and having used one for a few days now to clean and re-varnish my fascias and soffits, I am convinced of its safety, convenience and ease of use.
Essentially, the Platform Ladder (Painter’s-Mate) is an extendable alloy ladder with a mini-access platform perched on the top. This may sound a bit odd, but the pictures will confirm what a good idea it is. One of the sensations I always have when perched on a ladder is that feeling that if I leaned too far to the left or right or stretched too far above my head I would lose my sense of orientation and my balance. On an ordinary ladder, this would almost certainly result in an accident or near accident, but being able to lean against the access platform with its rails above waist height, the user feels the security of the rails and very quickly has the sense of balance confirmed.
Now, none of the above would make any sense if the ladder itself just had an access platform added to the top. But the ladder has also been cleverly designed to make just about as stable (and also portable) a base for the access platform.
A closer look at the ladder will give the reader some idea of what I mean. While most of the ladder is a “normal” extendable ladder that works in the same way as other extendable ladders, the base and top of it are cleverly redesigned.
Light, Safe and Ingenious
First of all, the base of the ladder has the two “legs” (one adjustable) that have been extended out to the side so that they are at least 85 cm wide. This obviously gives a much wider and therefore more stable base to it. In addition, there is another adjustable (and very substantially made) foot that is attached to the “wall side” of the ladder that acts as a fail-safe in the event of a slip.
Each of the feet has a large ribbed rubber foot on it that provides an excellent friction grip on the surface on which the ladder rests.
I tried this arrangement on a concrete slab surface and even at full height, the ladder and access platform felt completely secure.
But a “belt and braces” approach to safety is clear in the Platform Ladder (Painter’s-Mate) concept. Threaded through one of the alloy rungs is a bright yellow adjustable nylon strap with a karabiner on it. Supplied with the kit is a big strong screw eye, several robust plastic plugs and a masonry bit. For complete peace of mind the user should drill a hole in the mortar between two bricks, insert the plug and screw eye and attach the nylon strap tightly to the wall with the karabiner. This pulls the whole ladder towards the wall and makes it impossible for it to slip backwards away from the wall.
Having actually tried this system for myself I felt completely safe right up the full height – and I am a self-confessed scaredy cat on ladders.
In fact the Platform Ladder (Painter’s-Mate) is available to reach a platform height of up to 6.3 metres, and I am not at all surprised that such heights can be safely reached. Add onto this the user’s ‘reach’ of around 1.5m and you can have a working height of around 8m.
Some readers might think that a platform on top of a ladder might have to be a “mickey-mouse” affair. This platform will dispel any such ideas. While it is amazingly light, it is very well constructed (just look at the welds) with a weatherproof ribbed foot surface and optional toe-boards.
To mount it to the top of the ladder you have to start with the ladder laid flat and the “cage” arranged on its side. The top ends of the ladder are supported on the support bars and the cage lifted to slide into the top of the ladder. Two huge handscrews are tightened to hold these ends in place. The two support bars are then engaged and firmly held in place with pins. The pins in turn, are locked in place with lock springs. These are held with chains, so neither pins or lock springs can be lost. Sounds complicated, but it is surprisingly easy to achieve, as all the components are light and easy to handle. Also, the components are accurately made, so they line up and just slot into place.
The whole ladder with the platform can then be lifted (the 2m ladder and platform weigh only 22Kgs) and placed against the wall where needed. But again, there is a beneficial twist. At the back of the platform is an adjustable wheeled stand-off, allowing the platform to be raised against the wall without friction and without damaging tiles or woodwork.
The wheels rest against the wall and stop the platform from moving laterally, and they can also be extended further to allow even more stability.
Accessing the platform is easy too. Climb the ladder with the platform gates open, and once you’re there just push two little buttons to engage the curved safety rails that come round to form a solid barrier at waist height. When you are working, you can feel the barriers on you when you lean to the sides or back and they provide instant physical confirmation of where your balance lies, so you tend not to over-lean or stretch.
You can see from the above that I was immensely impressed with the Platform Ladder (Painter’s-Mate) from Easi-Dec. In my opinion it is a brilliant device that increases the safety of working at height by a large margin. Prices start at £1,311 + VAT and the system can be fitted into the back of a small van or a medium sized estate car. The quality of the product is self-evident and I am sure will last a lifetime.
Easi-Dec makes a whole range of other ingenious products for working at height, and a visit to www.easi-dec.co.uk is very instructive, or you can just give them a call on 01767 691812.