A step up the ladder for safety

One man whose vision helped in the building of many M20 bridges has turned his sights upwards again

According to NHS Direct, DIY ladder and stepladder accidents currently send 41,000 people to hospital each year in the UK, while there are about 1,000 further accidents involving professionals. There are approximately 50 deaths and 4,000 serious injuries. At the same time, the total number of domestic and industrial accidents involving ladders across Europe is believed to be around half a million. Making users safer is therefore a real imperative

Enter Lance Sheffield, a construction manager who has come up with a number of ingenious means and mechanisms to improve the safety and stability of ladders. Among these is a ratchet mechanism that greatly increases the load-carrying capacity of such devices. Ultimately, it may have applications elsewhere.

Sheffield, of Otford in Kent, is no stranger to such challenges. He played a major part in the construction of many of the M25’s bridges, and has had a lifetime of dealing with construction site health and safety issues, including the avoidance of ladder accidents.

Tom Shelley

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