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Materials and access move by Combisafe

PLANTHeight safety specialist restructures for new challenges

HEIGHT safety specialist Combisafe is planning widespread expansion into the access and materials handling sectors.

At the same time it is to set up an approved installer network for its edge protection, netting and ladder products, to ensure a guaranteed standard of workmanship. Combisafe will now be looking to train and certify specialist contractors.

The Northampton-based firm, which has turned over £13 million this year and is planning £17 million next year, has set out a new company structure to align more closely to the Health and Safety Executive's work at height safety hierarchy.

The new divisions are Combisafe Prevention, comprising edge protection; Protection, comprising fall arrest systems and safety net fans; Access; and Service, which will work across national borders rather than the previous regional structure.

Managing director Bengt Rolen said: 'We have a number of products in the first two divisions and so it is the access and the service or consultancy division that we will be particularly looking to grow. We need acquisitions if we are to build our market share, but finding the right people is key.'

Combisafe made its name with its edge protection systems and so does not have much exposure to access products, although it has a successful fold-down site stairway.

This will be complemented by the UK launch in February of a 'hanging' platform, which creates a work platform on the edge of structures.

Its latest product, based on its Spanish-built Alsipercha fall-arrest system, is aimed at workers who have to load and unload materials from the back of trucks, protecting them from falls from height.

The Combisafe Loading System (right) is a moveable and demountable fall arrest harness, using the Alsipercha gantry, together with a counterweight comprising concrete sections, which are forklifted into place.

Mr Rolen said: 'It requires quite a lot of counterweight because some of these guys need to be able to reach up to 6 m.'

But Mr Rolen said he was also very interested in moving into the materials handling sector, which he defined as products which save manual handling and protect workers on site.

At the same time, the firm has taken the decision to publish all its product details on its website rather than distribute numerous manuals.

Mr Rolen said: 'Common European standards mean that now we can release the same products and information across Europe, and using the website speeds up communication, allows us to get quicker to market and enables the site manager to download it themselves.'