Solution Summary: Pipe Wrench Stand
The pipe wrench stand is an engineering control that can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders from stressful hand activities and overhead work. It is a small vice-like device that holds one pipe wrench firmly in place so that a worker can concentrate on turning a second wrench while connecting or dismantling pipe fittings.
A pipe wrench stand fits standard sized pipe wrenches (12”, 14”, and 18”). The pipe wrench stand is attached to a board the length of the wrench. One wrench is then secured with the jaws of the pipe wrench stand. The pipe is placed in the wrench and a second wrench is used to rotate a pipe fitting on the second half of the attachment joint. The compact size allows the pipe wrench stand to be used in confined spaces where it would be difficult to use two pipe wrenches independently or a full size tripod pipe vice.
Figure 1. Pipe wrench stand (Photo courtesy of Atlanta Special Products Inc.)
Stressful hand and wrist activity can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength. The pipe wrench stand reduces stressful hand and wrist activity by allowing the worker to only push or only pull on one wrench.
Overhead work can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as shoulder muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons; or rotator cuff tears, which is a rupture of a shoulder tendon. The pipe wrench stand can reduce overhead work by allowing the majority of the joints to be assembled on the ground before the worker has to complete the final installation overhead.
How Risks are Reduced:
While using multiple pipe wrenches, the possibility of injury is high due to the awkward push/pull motion required to use both wrenches. The pipe wrench stand allows the worker to only push or only pull on one wrench, thus reducing stressful hand and arm exertions. The compact size allows the pipe wrench stand to be used in confined areas which might include crawl spaces, attics, and or mechanical rooms.
Having the ability to fit attachments at the site of work reduces manual material handling. Typically, pipes are assembled at centralized fabrication station and then carried to the site of use. Pipe wrench stands minimize handling of large, often awkward, sections of pipe.
Finally, use of a pipe wrench stand reduces the stress of assembling pipe while reaching overhead. If a wrench were to slip off the material while assembling fixtures overhead, the large amount of torque placed on the wrench could cause a pipe wrench to strike the worker, and/or cause the worker to fall. Using a pipe wrench stand allows the majority of the joints to be assembled on the ground before the worker has to complete the final installation overhead.
Although no research studies have been conducted on pipe wrench stands, it is well established that the use of jigs and vices help decrease forceful hand and arm exertions.
Effects on Productivity:
A pipe wrench stand has the capability of increasing productivity when used appropriately.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Michael Milanoski, SPT – Eastern Washington University