This case study provides an example of good practice to reduce the manual handling risks present when manually removing hydrant pot lids when refuelling planes in the aircraft industry.
Employees engaged in aircraft refuelling operations are required to manually lift hydrant pot lids (see figure 1) that are recessed into the concrete floor of the apron.
These hydrant pot lids can weigh in excess of 20kg (up to 25kg) and have to be manually lifted and placed aside in order for the employee to connect the fuel hose to refuel the aircraft.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) place duties on employers to reduce hazardous manual handling risks as far as is reasonably practical.
Figure 2 provides guideline figures which a detailed risk assessment is likely to be required. The bottom of the image shows that for this task the guideline figure is between 5kg and 10kg, so raising the 20kg pot lid would require a detailed risk assessment.
Figure 3 above shows how an employee would remove a hydrant pot lid. As can be seen the employee adopts a crouched posture due to the position of the load which may lead to high loading forces in the knees and lower back when raising the load. Furthermore during cold periods or due to poor maintenance greater forces may be required to remove the hydrant pot lid therefore increasing the risk of injury. Other factors that may increase the risk of injury include:
Health and Safety management at ExxonMobil identified the risk of injury from performing this task and, working together with employees and safety representatives, devised a solution to reduce the risk of injury when removing and replacing the hydrant pot lids.
As can be seen from figure 4 above, ExxonMobil devised a lightweight aluminium tool for removing the hydrant pot lids. The handle shown at the top opens and releases the clamps that fit into the handles of the hydrant pot lid.
Cost of device = approximately £150
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) considers this handling device provides a reasonably practical control measure for reducing the risk of manual handling injury when removing the hydrant pot lids and would encourage the industry to adopt a similar approach.