When Keith Dymond was assessing some window fitters for NVQs he spotted a gap in the market that could raise the bar on safety standards – and so the Gap-Bar was born.
When windows are removed during the renovation of existing buildings, or before they are fitted in new builds, the resulting opening is a high-risk hazard. Workers can not only fall through the opening created from the inside of the building but, if they are working off scaffolding, can also fall through the opening from the outside, but one training provider thinks he’s found a solution.
Keith Dymond’s light bulb moment came when he observed some tradesmen removing old timber sash windows and replacing them with PVCu units.
“I became concerned because they were working on the 1st floor and were carrying out the work from the inside but didn’t have any fall prevention,” he recalls. “I decided that I would find a product which I could recommend to the company and began my search on the internet, but I couldn’t find anything on the market which could do the job satisfactorily.”
It was then that Keith took the decision to strike out and design a fit for purpose product, and took the idea to an organisation his company was already a member of in the South Cumbria Occupational Health and Safety Group. They introduced the fledgling inventor to Michael Griffiths who is the Inspector of Construction Health and Safety for HSE based in Cumbria.
“It was Michael that gave me the confidence to carry on”, admits the training company owner. He liked the idea and gave me the confidence to carry on but that was back in October 2014, and it’s been a long road since then.”
For many with ambitions to bring a product to market the level of investment required can often be the greatest hurdle, and has halted many an entrepreneur in their tracks.
Proving the old adage that it’s not what you know but who, Keith consulted a trusted associate in Janet Addison at the University of Central Lancashire and it was she who set him in the right direction by introducing him to Alan Smithson at the Cumbria Growth Hub, who helped with a funding application.
With the help of the Engineering Department of Lancaster University the Gap-Bar would start to take shape and together with patent specialist, Ian Palmer the innovation was made legally secure.
From concept to production in a cost effective step proved an equally difficult journey, but eventually Keith was able to source a local company, Scurrah-Nassau. That firms Lee Harrison would prove to be invaluable in developing the Gap-Bar through multiple prototypes.
“It’s been a continuous process of improvement,” declares Keith. “When we exhibited at a Health and Safety event at the NEC in Birmingham, for instance, some of the constructive feedback, we received has enabled us to adapt it still further.
“Today, Gap-Bar is being trialled on a number of sites across the UK, including Galliford Try in High Wycombe and Leck Construction in Cumbria, and has been welcomed as a quick and easy way to prevent falls from height.
FEATURES AT A GLANCE
The Gap-Bap is a guard rail available in three different lengths with a threaded bar running through it which means it can be easily extended to suit the size of the window opening.
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Cost effective
- Torque control
- Inter-changeable ends
- Easily adjusted by hand
- Less likely to damage mullions, rendering, rough cast etc