Solution Summary: Standing Carpet Cutter
A standing carpet cutter is an engineering control that may help reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) associated with squatting, stooping, and kneeling while removing carpet. It is a cutting tool with an extension handle used to cut carpet while standing.
There are three basic types of standing carpet cutters: cutters with ‘T’ shaped handles, handle extensions for standard carpet cutters (figure 1 and 2), and long-handled cutters for cutting glued down carpet or vinyl flooring into strips for removal (figure 3).
Figure 1. Base cutter (Photo courtesy of Beno J. Gundlach, Co.)
Figure 2. Extension handle (Photo courtesy of Beno J. Gundlach, Co.)
Figure 3. Long-handled cutter for carpet removal (Photo courtesy of Beno J. Gundlach, Co.)
Cutters with ‘T’ shaped handles allow the user to follow chalk lines and make 90° turns.The cutter glides along on a rear mounted ball bearing and can be used with deep pile carpet. The tool is around 35" high and the handle bar is 16-17" wide for easy steering.
Handle extensions are made of steel and attach to a standard base cutter. They are 58” long and have a plastic grip.
Long-handled cutters are for removing glued down carpet or vinyl flooring. They have a hardened steel point with a blade fixed to it, so that the steel point lifts the carpet and the blade cuts it. For carpeting that is tightly glued down, a hooked blade can be used instead of the steel point/blade combination. The tool has a reinforced fiberglass handle that is adjustable from 49-3/4" to 84" and has a double-locking collar. The tool weighs just over 2 pounds.
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 standing carpet cutter can help reduce stooped postures by allowing the worker to keep a neutral position of the spine and knees while cutting carpet
How Risks are Reduced:
Standing carpet cutters allow carpet layers to stand upright while working. Standing while working keeps the spine and knees in a neutral position, minimizing strain and muscle fatigue.
There is research that shows working in stooped back, kneeling, or squatting postures can lead to low back disorders, especially when combined with other risk factors such as twisting or handling heavy loads (Bernard et al. 1997). In addition, shear (horizontal) forces on the back are greater during kneeling (Splittstoesser et al. 2007) and back strength is significantly reduced while kneeling compared to standing (Gallagher, 1997). Kneeling is also associated with MSDs of the knee including osteoarthritis (McMillan et al., 2005) and bursitis.
Manufacturers of standing carpet cutters say that this tool reduces risk of fatigue and discomfort for workers. The Beno J. Gundlach Co., a vendor of cutters, states that the 265 Jus-Push Cutter, “eliminates literally miles of crawling,” and that the extension handle allows the 830 Base Cutter “ to be used from a standing position for quicker cutting and less fatigue.”
Safety and health experts believe that it is important to avoid prolonged and repeated stooped postures or kneeling, even in the absence of the other risk factors for low back or knee disorders.
Effects on Productivity:
Standing carpet cutters increase productivity.
Other carpet installation tools, like stretchers and scrapers, come with extension handles so they can be used while standing.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; Zack Sinner, SPT; and Kevin Wright, SPT – Eastern Washington University
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