Solution Summary: Toilet Dolly
A toilet dolly is an engineering control that can help reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from lifting and carrying toilets. Once the toilet is secured to the dolly, the toilet dolly is operated like a hand truck that can easily move and place toilets.
Toilet dollies enable one worker to move a toilet with minimal effort and without awkward postures. Two basic types exist. The first dolly has extendable arms which can be inserted under the toilet bowl to lift the toilet (Figure 1). When the arms are not extended, this dolly functions like a regular hand truck.
Figure 1. Lav-Lifter two-wheeled hand truck
The second type of dolly is specifically for moving toilets and has the advantage that the toilet remains level during moving (Figure 2). It has two larger wheels on the back so that the device can be tipped back and maneuvered on uneven ground, and two small wheels on the front so toilets can be rolled levelly on hard floors. Three clamps secure the device inside the toilet bowl and a crank is used to lift the toilet.
Figure 2. ToiletKart with a four-wheeled design
Heavy lifting and carrying can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg. The toilet dolly can help reduce heavy lifting and carrying by minimizing the need for workers to lift toilets high off the floor and carry them a significant distance.
How Risks are Reduced:
Toilet dollies minimize the low back stress caused from lifting and manipulating toilets.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded, based on current research, there is strong evidence that low back disorders are associated with work-related lifting and forceful movements (Bernard et al. 1997).
There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of toilet dollies on the incidence of low back disorders. However, studies have shown an association between manual materials handling and low back pain. (Kuiper et al.; 1999) According to Kuiper et al. (1999), “MMH [manual materials handling] can be considered a risk factor for back disorders.”
Lifting heavy materials can cause injury to the muscles, discs, and ligaments of the low back. A toilet dolly can reduce the risk of back injury by minimizing the amount of lower back stress caused from lifting and moving toilets. In addition, toilet dollies can be used while standing upright which enables lifting without bending or stooping.
Marco Products, manufacturer of the Lav-Lifter, states that toilet dollies “help prevent back strain.” In addition, Pipe-Tytes Inc. states that their ToiletKart “takes the stress off your back,” and “eliminates back strain.” Safety and health experts believe that use of dollies for manual material handling is beneficial in reducing back stress.
Effects on Productivity:
There currently is no information available on the effects of productivity using toilet dollies.
Toilets can also be lifted and moved using a standard motorcycle/all terrain vehicle jack with wheels. When using a motorcycle jack, the user has to strap the toilet to the jack (many models include straps). Motorcycle jacks are less expensive than toilet dollies and are widely available. They are also very durable, have high weight limits, and can be used for other tasks.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; Zack Sinner, SPT; and Kevin Wright, SPT – Eastern Washington University
- General Labor
- Load, unload and distribute construction materials