Langtons began life in the 1830s as a small blacksmith and ironworks servicing the needs of the hugely important local agricultural community which still holds sway in these parts. All manner of farming requisites were forged in a small workshop and in later years they would become synonymous with milking equipment and cattle grids, whilst a small ironmongery shop in the centre of town was a notable landmark where items from nails to fully cast iron fireplaces could be sourced.
Acquired by local building contractors Walter Thompson in 1961, the company began to develop the steel fabrication side of the business and provided beams for a number of prestigious municipal projects throughout the county. This instinct for diversification subsequently proved a blessing as the agricultural industry underwent massive changes throughout the eighties and the business looked to add a greater variety of construction site equipment to its manufacturing output.
With a long held reputation for quality, using only locally sourced materials and producing bespoke solutions to a multitude of construction and engineering problems, throughout the nineties and early 2000s the company evolved into a modern customer-focused metal and steel fabrication business, which can now offer single beams for loft conversions and house extensions to medium-sized steel framed buildings, fire escapes, mezzanine floors , security grills and even waste handling storage.
However, it was changes in construction industry health and safety legislation in 2005 which would instigate another significant shift in the company’s direction. Highly experienced engineer Derek Larking, who has enjoyed a multitude of roles within Langtons for more than 30 years takes up the story, “Working closely with the construction industry, we were only too aware of the unacceptable level of injuries and fatalities that where being sustained as a result of falls from heights. In the main these were occurring from heights of 2m or less and suggested that workers were taking short cuts or using inferior equipment for many apparently run of the mill building tasks.
“Trestles in particular were quickly identified as a potential problem with nothing to prevent someone stepping or falling off the sides and ends of the temporary scaffolding. Everyone it seems has a set to hand but more often than not they were simply not designed for the task in hand. Drawing on our vast experience in metal fabrication and simple engineering solutions we worked on a number of potential ideas which would still enable the builder to utilise their existing trestles but make them inherently safer to use.
“After many long nights in the factory and a number of prototypes we came up a super strong steel trestle post which forms part of a complete simple-to-fix trestle Guardrail system, which complies fully with the work at height regulations. Comprising out riding stabilisers, ladder bracket, stop ends and gates, the 1000mm 40 x 40 SHS posts which are powder coated in high visibility yellow are positioned at strategic points along the length of the trestle and scaffold boards with in built brackets to hold the supporting wooden edge restraints. They are tested to with stand the heavy impact of a bulky builder complying to BS EN 13374.”
Recognising that stair openings and landings are also a very common potential hazard in the build process the company has subsequently developed an innovative corner stair safety post comprising a post base plate with four 7mm holes for fixing down to wood concrete or steel staircases. The corner stair safety post is specifically designed to be fitted as a corner post and so comes with a total six cleats with three on each adjacent side of the post to allow the timbers to form a corner section.
“Innovation has always been at the heart of the business and we like nothing better to get round a table to try and find a solution to a problem. In this case the edge protection system is especially rewarding because we know it will save livelihoods and in some cases actual lives. And for around £500 for the basic starter pack of posts and stabilisers, that seems a very small price to pay for everyone’s peace of mind.”
It’s a theme supported by preconstruction director Graham Shepherd who says, “For the best part of two centuries, the company has tended not to shout about its achievements from the rooftops and modestly gone about its day-to-day business. However, the development of the Trestle and Corner Edge Protection system is something we are justifiably proud of and which we feel can make a real contribution to on site safety in the future.
“The guys in the factory have an incredible wealth of experience in metal work and we challenge any potential customer to approach us with a problem and we will give it our very best shot to come up with something totally bespoke. We are currently working on a number of other ideas which we hope will have a similarly positive impact on site safety so watch this space.”