Collapse of Extension Ladders by Overloading of Side Rails
Several 6063-T6 aluminum alloy extension ladders of the same size and type collapsed in service in the same manner; the extruded aluminum alloy 6063-T6 side rails buckled, but the rungs and hardware remained firmly in place. The ladders had a maximum extended length of 6.4 m (21 ft) with a recommended maximum angle of inclination of 75 deg (15 deg from vertical). Investigation (visual inspection, hardness testing, metallographic examination, stress analysis, and tensile tests) supported the conclusion that the side rails of the ladders buckled when subjected to loads that produced stresses beyond the yield strength of the alloy. Recommendations included increasing the thickness of the flange and web of the side-rail extrusion.