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Choosing an Aluminum Fixed Ladder over a Steel Fixed Ladder

Derek Tokarz

Derek Tokarz

Certified in Safety Management Group's Training in Fall Protection

Aluminum Vs. Steel the better Ladder

When it comes to a fixed ladder, one of the questions that we see a lot is “Why is an aluminum fixed ladder a better choice than a steel fixed ladder?” 


Firstly, let’s see what OSHA states in regards to a metal fixed ladder;

OSHA 1910.23(b)(6)

Metal ladders are made with corrosion-resistant material or protected against corrosion; (view OSHA standard.)

A fixed ladder manufactured of aluminum is going to comply with the ‘corrosion-resistant material’ requirement without any additional coating, painting, or galvanization.

Steel fixed ladders will need to be painted or galvanized to be compliant with the OSHA fixed ladder regulations. This immediately results in increased production, which will adversely affect the lead time of the product. 

Secondly, a coated or painted steel fixed ladder will require ongoing maintenance and possible repainting to maintain OSHA compliance. This results in ongoing costs and time which would by far outweigh the initial cost difference, if any, between an aluminum fixed ladder and steel fixed ladder.

An aluminum fixed ladder is a clear winner when it comes to ongoing maintenance and corrosion resistance, but what about installation?

Aluminum fixed ladders like the KATTCLIMB Fixed Ladder Systems, are manufactured of high grade, high tensile aluminum which results in superior strength and loading performance. Also, with the fact that aluminum is a lighter metal, the overall weight is far reduced which makes shipping and handling far easier. Aluminum fixed ladders can often be lifted in place without the need for a crane or lift. Once installed, an aluminum fixed ladder subjects less load to the wall and roof surface (if roof-mounted). This means that aluminum fixed ladders can be installed quicker and with possibly less heavy equipment. This positively impacts costs. 

Onsite customization becomes a possibility when fixed ladders are manufactured of aluminum. With the KATTCLIMB Fixed Ladders, the ladder modules can be simply trimmed in the field to get the exact height. KATTCLIMB Fixed Ladders are supplied in a modular format which results in product shipping in 1-2 days. With steel fixed ladders, onsite customization is extremely difficult and labor-intensive often resulting in the ladder being shipped back for alteration.

There is one more point that is extremely important. Steel fixed ladders are typically supplied with 1/4in thick rungs which offer limited traction and result in an uncomfortable climb. An aluminum fixed ladder is typically supplied with a wider profiled, serrated rung which makes climbing more comfortable and far safer.

Contact FIXFAST USA for further information relating to the KATTCLIMB Fixed Ladder System. Our team will assist you with your roof fixed ladder questions and make compliance easier to understand and implement.

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