Experience and innovation. Professional builder talks to a man who has quite literally harnessed those two crucial commodities to help prevent ladder users from becoming another “Falls from heights” statistic.
As a painter and decorator of some repute in the Coalville area of Leicester for more than forty years, Paul Heister reckons he has spent at least half of that time perched high up on a ladder at the mercy of the elements.
It comes with the territory of course and although he prides himself on a blemish free safety record, he is aware that many others in the profession have not been so lucky.
He told us, “you have to treat your equipment with total respect at all times. Complacency is the biggest enemy, but even with the best preparation in the world things do sometimes go wrong. I’ve experienced a few hairy moments myself when the wind has suddenly gusted and one in particular where the ground beneath the ladder completely gave way.
“Over the years I have heard some real horror stories of guys losing everything as a result of a fall from height and with around 12 deaths and more than 1,200 major injuries each year it is a real blight not only on the individuals involved through loss of time, productivity and money but of course the reputation of the industry.”
It was against this backdrop of concern that Paul decided to take matters in his own hands.
He explains: “Being so closely involved in the trade I have seen all manner of safety devices come onto the market and whilst some are clearly beneficial they all suffer from the fact that they need to be transported to site and moved around as the job progresses.
“I wanted something with a more permanent feel to it and after burning the midnight oil in the shed came up with a simple ladder anchor bracket which is fitted in to the brickwork of the property.”
The patented aluminium Evenna Bracket (an amalgamation of Paul’s two daughters’ names) can be positioned by the bricklayer at the first stage of construction, roughly at two metre intervals just above DPC and if required higher up the brickwork to provide a second level of safety.
The 12cm long brackets with a 3cm upturn can also be retrofitted to an existing house simply by removing the mortar and then re cementing in.
The exposed hole in the bracket is then used to attach a harness which the company can also supply and connects with the ladder to stop the feet slipping away and removing the need for second person to stand at the base.
Tests have produced an impressive pull out figure of around 130kg, and this offers the added benefit of being able to secure other valuable items like bicycles and garden equipment to the property.
Paul continues, “an average house would need between 15 and 20 fitted around the building to access windows and soffits in complete safety and is a great sell-on feature for the customer of a new home. We are currently talking to a number of major house builders in the area and they are expressing a real desire to give it a go.
“The brackets are small enough to be totally unobtrusive and lets face it another £70-£80 on the cost of a new property is not a lot to ask for a lifetime of peace of mind,” enthuses Paul.
It would seem that it is not only the local football team that is enjoying the high life in these parts right now!
For more information visit www.evenna.co.uk