A huge part of our CSI (Corporate Safety Initiative) is identifying exposures and finding ways to control or remove them. Recently, we had an exposure and enacted a solution.
During a SafeAlign safety contact, it was noticed that employees most often use manhole hooks to remove covers when they need to access facilities located below ground. Manhole covers can weigh between 200 – 250 pounds, and lifting that kind of weight using a hook put employees at risk for a soft tissue injury.
After some investigation, manhole cover lifters were purchased. These lifters use magnets to lift and move the lid, which takes the strain off employees. “They work great,” said Mickey Dawson, Gas Systems Technician III. “It’s easy to use and doesn’t put any of the weight on your back. They fold up easily and are simple to transport too.”
The story gets better! This exposure and the resulting solution were shared during CSI Program Team meetings, giving all departments this important information. Frequently, when one department is dealing with an exposure, it’s very likely that employees in other departments are dealing with the same exposure. When we solve a problem in one department, we can solve it in other departments as well, and that’s what happened in this case. The system works!
The Gas Department was first on board with the new cover lifters for their crews, and ULS crews followed soon after. "This is one of the best tools we have,” said Utility Locator II David Moore. “It makes a big difference and helps us avoid getting hurt.”
Staff at the Wastewater Treatment Plant are using the new lifter as well. “I use the manhole mover when I am out sampling at our industrial sites,” said Karen Foster, Industrial Pretreatment Specialist at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. “Some of the manholes are rusted and difficult to get up using a hook. Using the magnet takes away the risk of a back injury and using a sharp object to lift the lid.”
Other departments are investigating how the lifters might work for them.