Solution Summary: Jackhammer Lift Assist
The Jackhammer Lift Assist is an engineering control that helps reduce lifting a jackhammer. The Jackhammer Lift Assist is a 9.5 lb pneumatic cylinder that attaches to a jackhammer. When activated, the lift assist lowers a metal foot that mechanically extracts the jackhammer chisel to the surface of the material.
Jackhammering is a labor-intensive activity which requires a worker to:
1. Control the jackhammer with a firm grip
2. Guide the chisel as it breaks through concrete/asphalt
3. Extract the jackhammer chisel from construction debris
4. Reposition the chisel to start the next cut
The Jackhammer Lift Assist uses the same compressed air source as the jackhammer (Figure 1). The cylinder contains a metal foot, which is attached to a piston rod. When activated, the rod lifts the jackhammer chisel out of the material, and the worker is able to reposition the jackhammer by pivoting on the metal foot. This allows the worker to guide the jackhammer without having to physically lift the jackhammer (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Jackhammer Lift Assist
Figure 2. Jackhammer Lift Assist in Use.
Heavy lifting and carrying, or 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. Stressful hand & 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. A Jackhammer Lift Assist reduces these risks by mechanically lifting the weight of the jackhammer out of the material, thereby reducing the stress on the back, arms, and hands when lifting the jackhammer repetitively during normal use.
How Risks are Reduced:
Extracting and repositioning a jackhammer exposes a worker to heavy lifting while in a stooped posture, as well as forceful hand/wrist activities, therefore putting the worker at greater risk for musculoskeletal disorders. The Jackhammer Lift Assist allows a worker to complete most jackhammer tasks mechanically by activating the pneumatic rod, decreasing the amount of physical exertion.
According to the manufacturer, “The ergonomically designed Jackhammer Lift Assist reduces operator stress and fatigue; therefore drastically reducing the risk of jackhammer related back injuries as well as improving job efficiency and productivity.”
Although specific studies on the Jackhammer Lift Assist have not been performed, safety and health experts believe that the tool might help to reduce risk. Research has shown that workers who perform stressful activities in a stooped posture or other awkward back positions are at greater risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (Bernard, 1997; Kuiper et al., 1999; National Research Council – Institute of Medicine, 2001). The Jackhammer Lift Assist allows a worker to use a more neutral back position when extracting the chisel, letting the pneumatic rod do most of the work.
Effects on Productivity:
Productivity may be indirectly improved since using a Jackhammer Lift Assist may increase the speed at which a worker can complete a jackhammering task. In addition to demolition speed, Integrated Tool Solutions state that there is a reduction in worker fatigue, which may lead to fewer musculoskeletal disorders and increased productivity.
There may be a learning curve while workers learn to use the Jackhammer Lift Assist. Therefore, productivity may be affected for a short time.
A worker testimony stated that the Jackhammer Lift Assist is harder to use on sloped surfaces due to tool control issues.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; and Neil Morris, SPT - Eastern Washington University