In a recent study, designed to quantify stressors for lifting tasks, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), determined that there is a relationship between lifting and back pain. For the study, NIOSH scientists used a composite lifting index, which is the ratio of the load lifted to the recommended weight limit for multiple lifting tasks performed consecutively. The results of the study were published in Safety and Health at Work.
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News reports that while further development of risk assessment methods and research is necessary to confirm the study’s results, it is well-known that disorders affecting muscles and bones are common in jobs where lifting is required. In the crane industry, one of the leading causes of workman’s comp claims each year are caused by lifting heavy and awkward items such as outrigger pads and crane pads.
DICA has recognized this issue and has focused on designing its outrigger pads and crane pads with positive ergonomic features, to minimize the amount of lifting necessary to position outrigger pads. First, SafetyTech and FiberMax products are made of engineered, composite materials to reduce their weight compared to wood or steel products.
Wood outrigger pads typically weigh more than engineered outrigger pads because the need to be thicker (heavier) because wood is weaker and more brittle which can lead to failure. Wood pads can double in weight when exposed to moisture, and come with other risks such as splinters, sharp corners, and finger pinching handles. Engineered thermoplastic outrigger pads are impervious to absorption, and will not splinter or break under stress. Ergonomic and properly placed handles and round shapes, allow for the pads to be easily be lifted or rolled into place, reducing the potential for injuries to occur.
Regardless of pad choice, workers should use their legs as the primary source of lifting power and not their back. If your pads are round, roll the pads into place by standing the pad on edge, and position yourself to the back or side of the pad, and carefully roll the pad to the intended location. To safely place the pad into position, either lower the pad into place or allow the pad to fall away from you onto its intended location. If dropping the pad in place, verify all personnel are a safe distance away from where the pad will be placed. Once the area is clear, allow the pad to fall away and drop into place. If two workers are lowering the pad in unison, slowly lower the pad by bending at the knees while maintaining a straight back until the pad is positioned.
A major challenge for RT crane users is adaquest storage and transport options for crane pads. Typically crane pads are stored on the deck of the crane that is typically more than 5 feet off the ground. For these cranes, consider using a rack, or other storage option and avoid storing pads in locations that are higher than waist high. Having to lift heavy objects, such out outrigger pads and crane pads to a location above waist high is inviting injuries to occur.