Leeds start-up steps onto success ladder in national safety awards

A Leeds start-up company, aided by the University’s business start-up service SPARK, has produced a gadget for ladders that has been commended in a national award scheme for the safety industry.

l-r: Alan Murray, CEO of British Safety Industry Federation; Mabashir and Jumana Akhtar and Heather Beech, director of Safety and Health Expo


The gadget created by the Leeds company, RetraSafe, helps stop ladders from slipping and swaying.


The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) Safety Awards recognise first class health and safety products or services and regularly attract entries from multinational companies such as 3M. RetraSafe was recognised by the BSIF in the Products Innovation category of the awards. 

RetraSafe was set up by mature student, Jumana Akhtar, currently in her second year studying Biology at Leeds, and her husband, Mubashir.

Mubashir runs a satellite and TV aerial installation company and came up with the idea for the gadget after becoming frustrated with the lack of options available for improving ladder safety. He designed an extra pair of feet, which can be fixed to the sides of most extension ladders using a twist and lock mechanism.  Each foot is adjusted separately to make the ladder stable however uneven the surface. Once attached, the feet can stay fixed to the ladder, folding away at the side for storage. 

The pair launched RetraSafe to produce and market the gadget. As a Leeds student, Jumana was able to get business advice from SPARK, which helped them write a business plan and help with product development.

“SPARK has been great at getting us to think in different ways about how we take the business forward,” says Jumana. “They helped us focus on making the business work, rather than just focusing on the product.”

Jumana and Mubashir have just finished exhibiting the stabiliser at the London Safety and Health Expo and are already talking to a number of large construction companies interested in using the product on their sites.

Speaking after the BSIF Awards Ceremony, Alan Murray, BSIF CEO, said “I would like to congratulate all of the winners as their individual contribution is truly making a difference to the industry, ensuring we continue to innovate, improve safety for the end user and provide exceptional service levels to the UK market.”

Posted in: