Solution Summary: Electronic Cable Cutter
The electronic cable cutter is an engineering control that may help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity. Electronic cable cutters use battery power to slice through cables and wires, reducing the need for workers to use repetitive and forceful hand power to cut through materials.
There are many types of electronic cable cutters.
The Milwaukee M12 600 MCM cable cutter is designed to cut through 600 MCM copper and 700 MCM aluminum cables using battery power (figure 1). The design allows workers to cut through cables by simply pulling on a finger trigger instead of using repetitive and stressful hand force. This tool also includes an auto release lever allowing workers to use minimal hand strength to separate the device from the cable. Two different speeds make this tool effective for cutting both large and small cables.
Figure 1. Milwaukee M12 600 MCM Electronic Cable Cutter (Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Tool)
Greenlee manufactures a variety of electronic cable cutters designed to work on different materials. The Greenlee Micro Cable cutter is designed to cut smaller cables and wires (figure 2). It has narrow tips that allow for workers to reach materials inside panel boxes without sustaining awkward hand postures.
Figure 2. Greenlee ES32ML Micro Cable Cutter (Photo courtesy of Greenlee Tools, 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 electronic cable cutter can help reduce repetitive and stressful hand and wrist activity by using battery power instead of hand power to complete cuts in strong cables and wires.
How Risks are Reduced:
Electronic cable cutters reduce stressful hand and wrist activity because they lower the need to perform forceful, repetitive motions at or below the wrist. Some models also adjust so that workers do not have to sustain awkward hand and wrist postures to complete a job.
Safety and health experts believe electronic cable cutters will help to reduce stressful hand and wrist activity because they lessen the need for workers to perform repetitive wrist and hand movements that have been known to cause MSDs such as carpal tunnel syndrome (da Costa 2010). Additionally, manual cable cutting puts high force demands on the hand and wrist, which could lead to MSDs (van der Molen 2005). Electronic cable cutters significantly lower force demands.
Effects on Productivity:
An electronic cable cutter may increase productivity by reducing fatigue caused by using repetitive hand force to cut cables and wires.
Electronic cable cutters put workers at risk of cuts if the tool is not used correctly. Review instructions and safety warnings in the operator’s manual before using an electronic cable cutter.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; and Elizabeth Seidl, SPT – Eastern Washington University