Utility Cover Removal Operation

Task
To use a tool to remove a utility cover

Problem
The heavy manhole cover contributes to severe back injuries for telecommunications utility workers when they use the J-hook tool.

Intervention
Use the fulcrum bar tool to remove the manhole cover.

Cost
Approx. $80

Evaluation of Intervention

Handle Force (N) Compressive Force on Spine (N) RCOF IMC (N*m)
J-hook tool 807 +/- 95 5735 +/- 741 0.302 +/- 0.04 386 +/- 60
Fulcrum bar tool 340 +/- 87 2310 +/- 427 0.377 +/- 0.06 125 +

  • Pros
  • Requires lower handle forces than J-hook
  • Requires lower back compressive forces than J-hook
  • Lower risk of a fall compared to J-hook
  • Cons
  • More friction between the footwear and the ground surface is required to avoid slippage
  • Staggered foot placement while using fulcrum bar causes asymmetric postures, which leads to increased risk of low back injury

Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Intervention

  • Reduction of Identified Risk Factor
  • No New Risk Factors Introduced
  • Productivity not Reduced
  • Low Cost
  • Total
  • 3/5
  • 4/5
  • 5/5
  • 5/5
  • 17/20

Other Possible Interventions

  • Magnet lift tool
  • Wear footwear with greater traction
  • Redesign utility cover

Acknowledgements
Submitted by Chien-Chi Chang, Raymond W. McGorry, and Michelle M. Robertson, Liberty Mutual [Ergonomics in Design, Vol. 11, No. 3, p.16-21]