ExxonMobil Device Tool for Removal of Hydrant Pot Lids
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.
The Manual Handling Risk
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 - The guideline figures for lifting and lowering from Appendix 1 of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, 1992: Guidance on Regulations [see page 10]
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:
- Handling in cold environments
- Poor lighting (at night) which may affect the grip on load
- Risk of losing balance should the hydrant pot lid free itself unexpectedly
- Due to the crouched position the visibility of the operative is reduced (due to their crouched position and the reduced effects of high visibility jacket) therefore increasing the risk of their not being seen by other airside personnel or moving vehicles.
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.
Removing hydrant pot lid using device
Cost of device = approximately £150
- Improved lifting posture, thereby reducing the potential for manual handling injury
- Improved visibility of the operative decreasing the risk of not being seen by other airside personnel or moving vehicles.
- A full power grip that can be maintained while moving the lid
- The length of the handle means more leverage can be applied should the lid become stuck
- A simpler risk assessment may be appropriate
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.