When In Use, How to Safely Move an Articulated Ladder?

Articulated ladders, also known as multi-purpose ladders, are highly versatile tools used in a variety of tasks. They can be configured into multiple positions such as A-frame, extension, staircase, and scaffold, making them a valuable asset for both professional tradespeople and DIY enthusiasts. However, their versatility also requires understanding how to move and adjust them safely. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to safely move an articulated ladder when in use, covering preparation, techniques, safety tips, and best practices.

Understanding Articulated Ladders

Before we delve into moving an articulated ladder, it’s essential to understand its structure. An articulated ladder consists of multiple hinged sections that can be locked into different positions. These hinges allow the ladder to be used in various configurations, offering great flexibility for different tasks.

Preparation Before Moving the Ladder

  1. Inspect the Ladder: Before using and moving the ladder, conduct a thorough inspection to ensure it is in good condition. Check for any damage to the rungs, hinges, and locking mechanisms. Ensure all moving parts are functioning correctly and there are no signs of wear or fatigue.
  2. Clear the Area: Make sure the area around the ladder is free from obstacles and debris. This helps in preventing trips and falls when moving the ladder.
  3. Understand the Ladder Configuration: Familiarize yourself with the different configurations of the ladder and how to lock and unlock the hinges. This knowledge is crucial for safely adjusting the ladder to the desired position.
  4. Wear Appropriate Safety Gear: Always wear safety gear such as gloves and sturdy footwear to protect yourself from injuries.

Techniques for Moving an Articulated Ladder

Moving an articulated ladder safely involves a series of steps that ensure both your safety and the stability of the ladder. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Lock the Ladder in Place: Before moving the ladder, ensure all hinges are securely locked in their current position. This prevents the ladder from collapsing or changing shape unexpectedly during the move.
  2. Lower the Ladder: If the ladder is extended, carefully lower it to a more manageable height. For A-frame and staircase configurations, bring the ladder to its folded position if possible. This makes it easier to handle and reduces the risk of tipping.
  3. Use Proper Lifting Techniques: When lifting the ladder, use your legs rather than your back to avoid strain. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and lift the ladder using your leg muscles. Ensure you have a firm grip on the ladder.
  4. Carry with Caution: If you need to carry the ladder, hold it at the center of the side rails. This provides better balance and control. If the ladder is long, consider having a second person help you carry it to ensure stability.
  5. Reposition the Ladder: Once you have lifted the ladder, move it to the new location with care. Walk slowly and be mindful of your surroundings to avoid obstacles. Ensure the new location is stable and level before setting the ladder down.
  6. Set Up Safely: After moving the ladder, set it up in the desired configuration. Ensure all hinges and locking mechanisms are securely in place before climbing the ladder. Double-check the stability of the ladder on the new surface.

Safety Tips for Moving an Articulated Ladder

Safety is paramount when handling any type of ladder, especially articulated ladders due to their complexity and flexibility. Here are some essential safety tips:

  1. Never Move a Ladder While on It: Do not attempt to move an articulated ladder while you or someone else is on it. Always descend first, then move the ladder.
  2. Check for Electrical Hazards: Be aware of overhead power lines and other electrical hazards. Ensure the ladder does not come into contact with electrical sources during the move.
  3. Use a Spotter: If possible, have another person act as a spotter. They can guide you and ensure the path is clear, making the move safer.
  4. Avoid Moving Fully Extended Ladders: Moving a fully extended ladder can be unwieldy and dangerous. Always retract or fold the ladder before moving it.
  5. Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Adhere to the instructions and guidelines provided by the ladder manufacturer. This ensures you are using and moving the ladder correctly and safely.

Best Practices for Different Configurations

Articulated ladders can be set up in various configurations, each requiring specific techniques for safe movement:

  1. A-Frame Configuration: When moving the ladder in an A-frame position, fold it to a compact form. Carry it by holding the side rails close to the center for better balance.
  2. Extension Configuration: For an extension setup, lower the extended sections before moving. Ensure both sections are locked together securely to prevent them from sliding.
  3. Staircase Configuration: In staircase mode, fold the ladder and carry it to the new location. Be mindful of steps and uneven surfaces when positioning the ladder.
  4. Scaffold Configuration: If using the ladder as a scaffold, disassemble any planks or platforms before moving the ladder. Move each component separately to ensure safety.


Moving an articulated ladder safely requires careful preparation, proper techniques, and adherence to safety guidelines. By understanding the ladder’s structure, using appropriate lifting methods, and ensuring the ladder is securely locked in place, you can minimize the risk of accidents and injuries. Always prioritize safety by inspecting the ladder before use, clearing the work area, and following manufacturer instructions. With these practices, you can confidently and safely move an articulated ladder, ensuring a stable and secure setup for your tasks.

By following these comprehensive guidelines, you can make the most of the versatility of an articulated ladder while maintaining a high standard of safety. Whether you’re a professional tradesperson or a DIY enthusiast, understanding how to move and handle your ladder correctly is crucial for both efficiency and safety.

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