Special Report: Lifting assistance equipment delivers safety and efficiency

They have your back

Lifting assistance equipment delivers safety and efficiency

It’s a fact: Lifting and moving heavy loads can result in costly personal injury accidents. Consider these numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • In 2019, more than 170,000 cases involving overexertion due to lifting and lowering resulted in days away from work.
  • Back injuries account for one of five workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Three out of four back injuries at work occurred while lifting.

Equipment and event rental owners may be responsible for absorbing significant expenses associated with an equipment lifting accident such as legal costs, deductibles and wages paid for a worker to cover the injured employee’s responsibilities. The statistics — coupled with potential owner liabilities — have spurred an increased demand for safer and more efficient lifting assistance equipment.

“Over the last decade, we’ve noticed two things rental companies are typically looking for: improved worker safety and improved efficiency,” says Jeremy Rupp, marketing director, Granite Industries, Archbold, Ohio. “This is especially true with material handling. By investing in professional grade hand trucks, workers are able to get more done with less injuries. This improves bottom line profitability and improves employee job satisfaction.”

Suppliers of lifting assistance equipment to the rental channel also are seeing the demand for their products rise due to the reality that there simply are fewer hands-on-deck to keep an eye on safe processes at today’s work sites.

“Due to many factors like the diminishing construction trade workforce, we have seen the demand for this type of equipment grow steadily in recent years,” says Michael Gnazzo, president, Innovativ Hoisting, Willington, Conn. “We are finding that employers are using this equipment more frequently to keep their talented employees safer and more productive.”

Within this special section of Rental Management, readers will find information on several types of lifting assistance equipment available today for the rental yard, warehouse and work site that can significantly reduce the risk of back strain and lifting injuries while simplifying the job.

Bringing the muscle

Hand truck innovations minimize exposure to back injury

Hand trucks have come a long way from the simple, two-wheeled dolly variety. Today’s offerings, including powered options, can ease the lifting burden on the operator, navigate stairs and rough terrain, and — depending on the model — can handle loads of more than 700 lbs.

Jeremy Rupp, marketing director, Granite Industries, Archbold, Ohio, explains that there have been four major issues with the traditional, standard hand truck design: increased back strain, poor pull-back leverage, inadequate load safety and physical exhaustion. His company has invested in overcoming these issues with a wide range of professional grade hand trucks, both manual and electric-powered.

To address the back strain issue, “we have implemented rear wheels on all of our high-capacity carts (750-lb. plus) and Block and Roll Carts. The rear wheels take the load off the operator and significantly reduce back strain, allowing the operator to handle heavy loads with confidence,” Rupp says.

Taller carts, infinite loop handles and kick plates have enabled Granite to meet the challenge of poor pull back leverage. “The additional height allows for maximum leverage; infinite loop handles ensure that the operator can always find the optimal grip to pull the cart back; and the rear kick plate gives a secure place for the operator to set their foot before pulling the cart back. These three features come together to create a much-improved experience when pulling back the cart with a full load,” he says.

Concerning load safety, Rupp says “it is always a concern when hauling weights over 500 lbs. An unsecured load is a danger to the operator and to the load. Granite’s high-capacity carts all feature e-ratchet strap pockets built right into the frame to secure the load directly to the cart. Using e-ratchet straps dramatically improves the load stability by decreasing the risk of the load falling off the cart.”

The final issue Rupp lists with standard hand trucks — physical exhaustion of the worker — is mitigated by the introduction of power.

“Even the most well-balanced load can be exhausting to move on concrete, let alone grass,” Rupp says. “Granite has addressed this issue with our sub brand, Overland Power Carts. This line is designed with all the features mentioned on our high-capacity hand trucks, plus electric power. The most popular hand cart is our Transformer, which features a battery-powered, all-electric drivetrain capable of moving up to 750 lbs. on hard, flat surfaces. Electric power offers the advantages of near silent operation, zero emissions and zero maintenance. The result is improved worker safety and efficiency, allowing them to get more done in less time.”

Powered lifting capacities often are a necessity when lifting and loading heavy or bulky objects onto trucks, trailers or around a facility. The PHT2-140-US powered hand truck from Makinex Construction Products, Torrance, Calif., provides a safe, single-user alternative to a forklift or tailgate loader for such applications.

The product — which has a lifting capacity of up to 309 lbs. — features a powered lifting arm with reach controlled by the user’s maneuvering of handles and arm height controlled via a thumb switch. The PHT2-140-US comes with a hook attachment for lifting, moving, and loading small equipment and machinery, and several optional attachments are available for handling different types of objects.

“We brought this product to the U.S. rental market six years ago and have put it into many national and independent equipment rental companies,” says Peter Maginnis, general manager, Makinex Construction Products. “It really serves to mitigate back strains and injuries because sometimes there is only one or two people that are in the facility to lift a piece of equipment into a vehicle or onto a workbench. Some of the research that we did showed that companies reduced back injuries and back strain by 60 percent after one year of use of the Powered Hand Truck. One of the things that we’ve found is that insurance companies really like the companies that are using it for lifting because it minimizes the losses or even the exposure to back injuries.”

Saving labor at event sites

Rental applications can get a lift

There is much more to setting the party and event scene than arranging the décor. Hefty equipment like tables, chairs, tent ballasting materials and more need to be carted to and from delivery trucks. That is where sturdy lifting equipment comes in.

In addition to its lineup of powered and conventional hand trucks, Granite Industries, Archbold, Ohio, offers the Block and Roll (B&R) hand truck. This product, designed in partnership with Bethpage, N.Y.-based B&R, features an “infinite loop” handle that can be grabbed from any angle and can handle up to 700 lbs. of cement tent ballast.

“These hand carts have revolutionized the tent ballast industry,” says Jeremy Rupp, marketing director for Granite Industries. “The patented dual fork on the front of the cart keeps the block completely secure while it is being moved. Infinite loop handles and the rear kick plate allow for maximum leverage when pulling the cart back. Stepping things up to the next level, there is the electric powered E-Mover 2.0 that is also designed for cement tent ballasts. It integrates the patented B&R design with the electric drivetrain that has been fine-tuned by Granite Industries. The result is a powerful cart that saves the operator significant energy on the job site and allows for maximum efficiency.”

Rupp suggests that products like the B&R hand truck and E-Mover will only grow in popularity “as more people experience the benefits of cement ballasts and want to provide employees with the right tool for the job. Cement ballasts offer numerous advantages over water barrels and many special event companies are moving away from water barrels entirely.”

Tent stake pullers also are an important tool for reducing the risk of muscle strains and back injuries on the event rental job site.

With an engine and hydraulic piston that delivers 6,200 lbs. of pull, the LS2200 self-propelled stake puller from Green Monster Manufacturing, Elmsford, N.Y., pulls all brands of stakes from a variety of surfaces, including blacktop, grass and hardpan.

“Historically, everybody used to whack a stake with a sledgehammer, twist it, pull it, get a fulcrum — it was always the most daunting tent job,” says Kenny Puff, president of Green Monster Manufacturing. “It was the job that the low man on the totem pole got because everybody hated it. It was physically challenging. We built our stake pullers — the self-propelled LS2200 and the LS1200, which is the push unit — in-house for ourselves with no intentions of resale. Then, competitors and salesmen saw it, and the next thing you know, everyone started asking us for it and Green Monster was born. Now, stake pulling has become everybody’s job and morale is up because no one is doing that horrible task. The product is a lifesaver and a labor saver — that’s what the ‘LS’ in the product name stands for: ‘Labor Savings.’”

Hoisting safely

Making work easier and safer on the construction site

Lifting loads small and large — often to a considerable height off the ground — is required all day, every day on construction work sites. Several varieties of lifting equipment are available to fit the bill for the task at hand, while saving workers’ backs in the process.

Inclined lifts, like the Böcker Junior unit distributed by Innovativ Hoisting, Willington, Conn., enable weighty materials to be easily hoisted as high as 115 ft.

“Inclined lifts provide users with a safe and stable material handling platform that can move loads to where they are working,” says Michael Gnazzo, president, Innovativ Hoisting. “With capacities up to 880 lbs. and carriage speeds over 150 ft./min, the user can move more materials safer and faster while minimizing physical strain. Inclined lifts are used worldwide for many applications such as roofing, solar, masonry, carpentry, glazing and furniture moving. Due to the compact design and ease of portability for both the trailer-mounted inclined lifts and cranes, this equipment can be positioned closer to where employees need it.”

For work crews like roofers who spend virtually all day at hazardous elevations, equipment that takes the manpower out of hoisting and lowering heavy materials is a big plus for managing risk. One such piece of equipment is the Equipter RB4000 from Equipter, Leola, Pa. The item is an engine-powered trailer designed to handle the heavy lifting by raising tools up and lowering debris to the ground and features hydraulically powered dumping capability.

“The RB4000 can lift up to 4,000 lbs., which cuts back on the number of times workers have to climb ladders or go up steps and also on the backbreaking hazards of carrying materials altogether,” says Aaron Beiler, founder and president, Equipter. “With the number of home improvement projects rising over the past year, there’s been an increasing demand in the rental industry for the Equipter. Not only does it work for contractors’ occasional roofing jobs, but it also helps restoration and demolition contractors streamline production and debris management. Homeowners and property managers also appreciate the extra effort contractors make to provide cleaner job sites and finish projects faster.”

Beiler adds that the RB4000 has risen in popularity “because it eliminates the need to physically haul debris across the site. It also has a dump feature, which means no heaving sharp, heavy concrete slabs over the side of an on-site dumpster.”

Vacuum lifting systems represent yet another back-saving tool in the arsenal of those engaged in lifting and moving heavyweight materials.

Brokk, Monroe, Wash., a manufacturer of remote-controlled demolition robots, recently has partnered with Oklahoma-based Vacuworx to offer two vacuum lifting attachments in North America. The attachments — the PHD portable vacuum lifting system and the SL 2 subcompact vacuum lifting system — can attach to and lift concrete, granite, marble, metal, steel and other flat, non-porous materials.

Operators can lift as much as 2,500 lbs. with the PHD system and up to 4,400 lbs. with the SL 2 system. Both systems feature wireless remote control and lightweight construction to maximize the lift capacity of the robot. In a statement released in connection with the Brokk and Vacuworx partnership, Mike Martin, vice president of operations for Brokk, noted that “we’ve heard amazement from our customers over how simply the system works, while boosting productivity and providing a huge safety improvement over manual methods.”

By Brock Huffstutler
Brock Huffstutler

Brock HuffstutlerBrock Huffstutler

Brock Huffstutler is the regional news editor for Rental Management. He writes and edits articles for ARA’s In Your Region quarterly regional newsletters, Rental Management, Rental Pulse and other special projects. Outside of work, he enjoys biking and spending time at the few remaining vintage record stores in the region.

Other articles by Brock Huffstutler
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