Stepladders are typically labelled with a warning sticker that says:
⚠️ Danger: Do not stand on top step
or, sometimes on the second-from-the-top step:
⚠️ Do not stand on or above this rung or step. YOU CAN LOSE YOUR BALANCE.
Government agencies give similar advice:
Do no stand, climb, or sit on the stepladder top or pail shelf.
So, why are stepladders designed with a top step at all?
- For waist-height stepladders, I can understand the utility of a top step, as it lets you use the ladder as an improvised sawhorse. Besides, one-meter falls are usually tolerable. For two-meter ladders, though… I don't think so.
- If it's just a place where you can rest your paint can, a fold-out shelf would be better.
- If it's to serve as a hand-hold, then a cylindrical pipe would do — and it would be more obvious that you aren't meant to stand on that.
- If it's for the structural integrity of the ladder, wouldn't a cross-brace serve that purpose without inviting temptation to step there?