By Matthew Power. Ever spent half the day patching together a wobbly, temporary handrail for an open stairway or balcony? Safety Maker Inc., based in Houston, has created a simple solution with its Safety Boot product. The company Web site (www.safetyboot.com) includes numerous high-quality photographs showing how the boot is used on the jobsite, to create safe catwalks, rail-off balconies, and enable creation of sturdy, site-built temporary stair rails. The site also offers a pdf, along with a streaming video of television coverage of the product.
Andrew Hilliard, vice president for Safety Maker, says the creation of Safety Boot grew out of his experience as an OSHA instructor. "We were doing safety training with some of the biggest builders," he recalls, "Pulte, Lennar, and Morrison--and with every one of them, safety rail requirements were their biggest complaint. We saw a niche there."
By all accounts, that niche was ripe for a new product. Hilliard says he now has distributors in almost every state, selling the boots at various price points (they retail for $22.95). Lowe's contractor stores also carry the product, as do many lumberyards. They also can be purchased by calling or e-mailing the company. Those contacts are available on the Web site.
Safety Boots are installed using supplied washers and standard screw-type fasteners, depending on the subfloor. They also come with a drill extension.Perhaps most importantly, the product ships with documentation showing that it has been stress tested to meet OSHA requirements. This certificate can be presented to inspectors who visit the jobsite.
"The product is very durable," Hilliard adds. "Most builders reuse them five or six times in the first year alone."