Fixed ladders are ladders which are fixed in place permanently, rather than being designed to be moved to various locations as needed. These ladders are classically used for vertical access to structures and tanks such as grain silos, fuel tanks, and so forth. A number of stringent government standards dictate the construction materials and methods allowed for fixed ladders, ensuring that these ladders are safe to use and standardized across the industry so that people can exercise freedom of choice as consumers when selecting a fixed ladder and accessory products.
The key feature of a fixed ladder is that it is designed to be fixed in place, and it is not self-supporting. Fixed ladders are also not collapsible or adjustable, although some may come in modular form, allowing people to bolt sections together to obtain a desired length. Modular fixed ladders are also easier and cheaper to ship, which cuts down on costs associated with their installation. Modular styles do require more care at the time of installation to confirm that the segments are installed appropriately.
Steel is a classic material for fixed ladders. If a ladder is going to be used in an outdoor environment, as many fixed ladders are, it must be built from materials which will resist wear by the elements, and may need to have a coating to increase resistance to the elements, depending on the regional rules. The width of the ladder, spacing of steps, and other technical requirements are also mandated by law.
When a fixed ladder is installed, a number of options can be included. Some fixed ladders have a safety cage, an enclosure near the top of the ladder which is designed to prevent falls. Platforms which can be used for resting and temporary placement of equipment are also available, along with hand rails. Accessories must be securely placed and routinely checked, along with the ladder itself, for any signs of wear or fatigue which could compromise safety.
Companies which make fixed ladders often offer free consultations to customers to help them select the most appropriate product. In addition to helping companies earn the trust of customers, such consultations also save the company time and money, by ensuring that customers buy the right product the first time. If a company does not advertise such consultations, it never hurts to ask if they are available. An experienced contractor or building inspector can also offer advice on placement and installation of fixed ladders.