Alternatives to the Ladder

Ladders are perhaps the most practical and useful way of working at heights. They are used by thousands of trades and purposes from clearing gutters to fitting satellite dishes but they do have a downside.

Ladder accidents are not uncommon and many people assume that using a ladder is dangerous. However, ladders are perfectly safe – if used properly – and while some people are looking at alternative methods of working at height – is there really an alternative to the humble ladder?

The Cherry Picker

The Cherry Picker’ or moveable platform gets its name from perhaps its first use. While its great for trundling down an orchard to pick fruit it isn;t really a practical method of clearing a gutter or working on the roof.

Cherry pickers are very large and extremely expensive to purchase and run, they can also be highly dangerous as they can extend to vast heights and training and supervision needs to be provided for their use.


A common sight in most cites; scaffolding and work platforms are essential for building maintenance. They provide a stable platform where workers can operate without fear of falling. However, scaffolding takes time to erect and is quite expensive as it is semi-permanent, designed to stay up for days and weeks rather than just a few hours which makes it impractical for quick rooftop installations.

Reaching devices

If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain…. reaching devices are often a simple method of attaching things at height of cleaning areas. Jet washing is now used by many window cleaners preventing the need for the operator to work at height whilst many tree surgeons have extendible tools useful for cropping small branches.

However, intricate work has to be done by human hand and any reaching tool is never going to be accurate. A jet washed window may be clean but its doubtful the window cleaner will be able to remove the smears.

There are a myriad of ways of working at height and all of them have there practicalities and disadvantages. Ladders are no different, however despite the numerous alternatives there is no better or practical method of working at height than the humble ladder.

Leave a Reply