When to use podium steps vs. when to use stepladders?
To the untrained eye, podium steps and stepladders may look the same. They’re both commonly used in work situations to provide users with the added height which is often required to get the job done. But, when you take a closer look at both of them together, the differences between the two become more apparent.
As with pretty much all tools or pieces of equipment, form follows function. What may seem like small, insignificant differences in the design of stepladders and podium steps, are actually the result of a thoroughly intentional design process. Every feature is there for a reason.
Because the designs of the stepladder and the podium step are actually different in many ways, it’s important that users know when and why to use each one. Not only do designs differ between podium steps and stepladders, there are many specific types of each which vary depending on their individual function in the workplace.
Below we will run through a number of potential work situations and why either the stepladder or podium step is best choice for each.
Changing wall-mounted fixtures
Wall-mounted fixtures are a common sight in homes, offices and shops. Unless you’re tall or the fixture is fitted low down on the wall, chances are you won’t be able to reach it safely.
If this is the case, you’ll need a piece of equipment which can give you some extra height. A standard extendable ladder is definitely not a sensible option here, as it could mark or damage the wall.
This leaves you with the two most appropriate options – the stepladder and the podium step. As mentioned above, the stepladder and the podium step may look the same, but they have a number of specific design features which make them each better for use in different situations.
To change a wall-mounted fixture, the most appropriate choice is the stepladder. This is not because the podium step can’t do the job. In fact it would arguably be a more effective choice. It mainly comes down to the fact that a stepladder is easier, simpler and less of an investment for simple jobs.
Working on ceiling fixtures
Fixtures which are attached to the ceiling directly, or suspended from a wire, require a different approach to wall-mounted fixtures. In some cases where the ceiling is low, minimal additional height is all that is needed to reach a fixture safely. However, with tall ceilings small is not enough.
In buildings such as warehouses, ceilings can be many times the height of a normal room. If you need to carry out work on a very high ceiling, some form of scaffold tower is the only viable option which can provide enough extra height. More standard rooms give you the potential choice between a stepladder and a podium step.
Podium steps and stepladders both come in many different shapes and sizes. Generally, podium steps are slightly larger than stepladders, but different set ups mean this can vary.
When it comes to working on a ceiling-mounted fixture, podium steps have one major advantage over stepladders – stability. Podium steps get their superior stability from the support struts/beams fitted around their base. These beams increase the surface area of the podium step in contact with the ground.
As a result, workers can theoretically reach further without the podium step tipping over. This is one of the main drawbacks associated with stepladders, as their thin side profile makes them significantly harder to balance upon when working at height.
However, additional support legs are not the only way podium steps provide users with improved stability. The caged working platform, which is the podium step’s most characteristic feature, adds an additional layer of support for users carrying out tasks at height. The metal rails which surround the user on all sides of the platform allow users to lean whilst working with tools.
There are many different types of worksite, indoors and out, which require workers to carry out tasks at height. The types of tasks which need attention indoors are often very different to those which need attention outdoors, and so are the tools. Podium steps and stepladders are no different to any other tool in this sense, as they have considerably different indoor and outdoor setups.
The indoor environment is generally more predictable than the outdoor environment. There are fewer external factors which could potentially affect working conditions, like heavy machinery or changing weather, and usually there are better floor surfaces to work on.
Stepladders are a less specialised piece of equipment, and are therefore usually cheaper than podium steps. This doesn’t mean they are less reliable from a quality point of view. As long as you buy from a quality manufacturer you will be able to rely upon a stepladder if you use it within manufacturer guidelines.
Stepladders are built to three load rating classifications, Class 1, Class (BS) EN131 and Class 3. These classes correspond to industrial, commercial and domestic use and translate to maximum loads of 175kg, 150kg and 125kg respectively. Within the EN131 standards, there are also two separate sub-classifications for professional and non-professional use.
Going off these maximum load figures, a fully-laden worker plus equipment could quickly surpass the maximum working load for a stepladder. Additionally, stepladders should also only be used on level and even surfaces, which means that they are not suited to outdoor use in many cases.
Podium steps, on the other hand, are generally built to higher weight ratings. Their reinforced structure allows them to handle significantly more working load which, when coupled with their greater stability, means they can be used in a wider variety of work situations. The lockable wheels featured on many podium steps also add to their mobility in indoor work environments, whilst models with adjustable legs can adapt to varying ground surfaces when being used outside.
Stepladders and podium steps both have their own individual merits which make them valuable pieces of equipment for indoor and outdoor use. Podium steps offer significantly more stability, strength and adaptability, making them a more dependable choice in all types of work environment.
If you would like to know more about podium steps, or the range of other equipment we stock, please get in contact today.
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