Andy Fielding of CTS Forestry and Arboriculture finds out if Hendon’s new ladders are really a step up. 

I AM a big advocate of using the right tool for the right job. For pruning small trees and hedge trimming, that tool could be a set of stepladders. 

Contrary to some popular beliefs, ladders and stepladders are not banned under health and safety law. In fact, they can be a sensible and practical option for low-risk, short duration tasks. 

However, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidance does say that you should use the right type of ladder and only on firm and level ground. 

Working on a small tree or hedge the ground is not always going to be firm and level, so how come step ladders are still deemed safe to use? Unfortunately, the HSE guidance only refers to stepladders with four legs and the examples they use are interior-based “changing a light bulb” type scenarios. 

Forestry Journal:

The Hendon ladders are a tripod (literally “three foot”) design which, according to the world of physics, is more stable than those with four legs. 

The ladders come in a range of sizes from just 1.17 m (4 feet) to an impressive 4.64 m (16 feet). The steps are deep enough to accommodate even the largest of boot size and stand in complete comfort while carrying out the task in hand. 

Warning signs do say not to stand on the very top two steps as these are used to brace against, giving the operator total hands-free working ability. 

At the end of each leg is a clawed foot, which is ideal for soft ground. Rubber soles that fit over the feet are also available to help protect delicate surfaces and give added friction and stability on hard surfaces.

Forestry Journal:

The ladders are made from welded extruded aluminium and are incredibly light for their size, making them easy to get on and off the truck and for carrying around. Despite their low weight they are capable of supporting a safe working load of up to 150 kg.

The ladders reviewed had a rear leg that was adjustable to accommodate sloping ground levels. While this is a good feature it isn’t always sufficient to ensure the ladders are level on uneven ground or adjacent to steps and large slopes. 

This is definitely a limiting factor when the HSE guidance is to only use stepladders on level ground.

Forestry Journal:

Well, if you can’t make the ground level, make the steps level. 

The Hendon Tripod Ladders are also available with an option for all three legs to be adjustable. This is a brilliant feature and provides a stable platform to work from on all types of uneven ground surface. 

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The 12-foot, Hendon standard tripod ladders tested here retail at around the £375 mark.

Not cheap, but if you’re using them on a regular basis that will be money well spent.  

However, my recommendation would be to spend £100 more and go for the Hendon three-leg adjustable tripod ladders. The added versatility is well worth the additional cost.