Solution Summary: Pipe Dolly
A pipe dolly is an engineering control that can reduce musculoskeletal disorders from stooped postures and manual material handling. The pipe dolly is a mechanical lifting device that allows one worker to lift and move heavy pipe(s).
A pipe dolly is an engineering control that can reduce musculoskeletal disorders from stooped postures and manual material handling. For example, the Grasshopper Texas Pipe Dolly has a 12-foot lever arm that pivots with very little friction and large wheels that allows for easy movement on rough surfaces. It incorporates a sliding chain block design that allows adjustments to the length of the loads and can accommodate a pipe up to 20-inch diameter and loads weighing up to 2000-pounds. The Cricket Pipe Buggy is a smaller unit that can transport a pipe up to 12-inch in diameter and loads weighing up to 1000-pounds. It incorporates a handle design that can disconnect into a crank to flip the pipe onto the cart (laid sideways) without manual lifting.
Heavy lifting and carrying and stooped postures 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 pipe dolly can help reduce heavy lifting and carrying and stooped postures by using a waist height lever arm to control the lifting and moving of pipes.
How Risks are Reduced:
A pipe dolly, such as the Grasshopper Texas Pipe Dolly or Cricket Pipe Buggy, reduces the weight an individual lifts and as a result minimizes the low back stress caused from lifting and manipulating heavy loads. The Grasshopper's lever arm can be handled while standing and the Cricket's handle can also be used as a crank lever in loading pipes, both reducing the need to bend and stoop while lifting and moving materials.
There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of the Grasshopper Texas Pipe Dolly or the Cricket Pipe Buggy on the incidence of low back disorders. However, studies have shown an association between occupational lifting and low back pain. Based on current research, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded that there is strong evidence that low back disorders are associated with work-related lifting and forceful movements. There is sufficient evidence that injury risk is reduced by decreasing the amount of weight that is lifted.
Effects on Productivity:
There have not been independent published studies measuring the effects of productivity while using the Grasshopper Texas Pipe Dolly or the Cricket Pipe Buggy. However, pipe transport hand carts may increase productivity by decreasing the number of workers needed to lift materials.
In addition to lifting and carrying pipe(s), the Grasshopper Texas Pipe Dolly could easily lift and carry other loads such as tool boxes, fittings, valves and steel beams.
It is recommended to follow the NIOSH Lifting Equation to determine the permissible lifting limit; however it can only be used to analyze lifting that does not including carrying or changing hand movements. Based on the NIOSH Lifting Equation, lifting a load of more than 51 pounds is not recommended in any circumstance.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Zack Sinner, SPT – Eastern Washington University
- Lift and carry wire, cables and conduit