How important is it to stay within the weight limit of a ladder? I know the obvious answer–very–but I’ve seen enough fools using ladders to know that they (the ladders at least) can withstand quite a bit of abuse and overloading. I suspect that every manufacturer does something similar, but Werner uses a color system for many of its fiberglass ladders. Red is 200 lbs, green 225 lbs, blue 250 lbs, orange 300 lbs, and yellow 375 lbs. The difference between them are evident, as a green Werner is noticeably more flimsy than an orange one. Yet, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a green ladder on a job site, often with an overweight person with a tool belt swinging a hammer or using another heavy tool. Different brand? Perhaps…
So the load rating is a manufacturers way to cover their ass…ets, typically it is half the failure weight… A 200# rated latter will probably break at over 400#
Depends on who you ask, ask a contractor you get one answer, ask the OSHA man and you get another!
I weigh about 240 without tools. I feel more comfortable on a 250+ rated ladder. The 200 lb wont break but the “bounce” and “sway” make me uncomfortable. That’s for extension ladders. Step ladders don’t bother me. I usually try to buy a 300lb ladder.
If I have the option of a higher rated ladder, all else being equal, I would choose the higher rating. Not having the correct ladder rating wouldn’t keep me from using it. Unless someone wanted me to do something dumb on it, then I would use it as an excuse.