European loft ladder standard EN 14975 explained
The European standard for loft ladders is referred to as EN 14975. KMtm_SMALL_black
A European standard is a publication that provides rules and guidelines on products that are manufactured in Europe. Standards were created by bringing together manufacturers, consumers and regulators. They are designed to improve safety and quality through an open and consensus based process.
These standards are largely unknown to the general population even though consumers stand to gain the biggest benefit from knowing about the different standards. Britain has been very progressive with the implementation of European standards with regards products that could be deemed dangerous if not properly manufactured, often requiring that those products are not only built to a European standard but independently tested to ensure they meet the standard. Britain has developed the Kitemark for this purpose and potentially dangerous products like electrical plugs must bare the Kitemark to be sold in the UK.
The loft ladder standard covers topics like having a minimum weight capacity of 150kg, the angle of the ladder must be at an angle of 61 degrees so it is not too steep while climbing, the steps of the ladder must be within a particular distance of each other. Other safety concerns are the position of the top and bottom step, the top step must be within a particular distance of the top of the loft ladder to make descending the ladder safer and the same is true of the bottom step, it has to be within a particular distance of the floor.
Stira worked with the British Standards institute to develop the European standard on loft ladders and is fully compliant with the standard.
It is important to note that anyone can buy the standard reference guide and it is completely legal for them to say they satisfy the standard without any 3rd party regulation. To ensure a manufacturer actually meets the standard the customer should look for an independent external certificate like the Kitemark. Unless the manufacturer is certified, audited and tested by an external standards group the customer would just have to take the word of the manufacturer that they meet the standard in it’s entirety instead of meeting some or most of the standard and ignoring other parts of the standard.
It is possible for a manufacturer to be unable to meet one or two points of the standard and still say that their loft ladder satisfies the standard.
Reasons other loft ladders would have difficulty meeting the standard.
Concertina loft ladders.
The problem these loft ladders would have in meeting the standard on loft ladders would be their flexibility. The lack of a rigid ladder would mean that in the weight tests the steps may move outside the accepted deformation distances even though this is essentially an accepted feature of the loft ladder. It would also have problems with the angle of the stairs as the customer can effect this angle by opening out the ladder more or less so there is no guarantee what angle the ladder will be at when open. To guarantee a manufacturer would meet the deformation tolerances and angle tolerances the ladder would need to be rigid so that steps and angles are the same every time the stairs is opened.
One size fits all folding timber ladders.
The problem these stairs have is they can’t guarantee where the first step will be in relation to the floor. If the house has a standard ceiling height of 8ft (2.4M) the one size fits all should meet the standard, but older house may have had the floor height changed, or insulation added that will increase or decrease the floor to ceiling height. While 8ft seems to be the standard ceiling height in many homes, modern single build homes can have just about any ceiling height. While this can be a minor issue (unless you have to cut through a step making the first step very high off the ground, technically this stairs wouldn’t meet the standard and couldn’t be certified.