A helping hand for hands-on maintenance

The Hytorc attachment tool can be mounted directly on the LA-40 tooling manipulator arm.

Nivek Industries now offers the Hytorc attachment tool for Hytorc’s hydraulic bolting tools, enabling safer maintenance while keeping workers’ hands out of the line of fire.

For safer maintenance practices, Nivek has already proven it can carry the weight of industry expectations with the company’s lift assist range.

A staple in Nivek’s portfolio is the LA-40 tooling manipulator arm, which protects against hand injuries and fatigue by supporting the weight of rattle guns, impact drivers and torque tooling. 

By taking the weight out of maintenance, the LA-40 arm allows for easier tool use without the burden of hand and muscular skeletal injuries.

Nivek has taken the safety and manoeuvrability capabilities of the LA-40 arm a step further with the Hytorc attachment tool, which can be mounted directly on the LA-40 arm to support the hydraulically driven tools in almost any orientation. 

The Hytorc tools are capable of achieving extremely high torque, which is essential for tightening and loosening the various nuts and bolts of mining plant and machinery.  

The tools have traditionally needed to be held in place by one operator, while a second operator drives the hydraulic tool.

“The main cause of concern is that the person holding the tool is not the one controlling it. This can potentially lead to the operator powering on the tool whilst the other person has their hand in an unsafe position,” Nivek general manager Derrick Cant tells Safe To Work. 

“If the person holding it has their finger between the reaction arm and the plate when the operator turns on the tool, the tool will easily crush their finger.”

Nivek developed the tool after customers demanded a solution to hold the LA-40 arm in place.

To alleviate this potential danger, Nivek has developed the Hytorc attachment tool, which is now available in Australia. 

Cant says Nivek developed the tool in response to customer demand for a product that allows operators to stand clear while using the Hytorc tools during maintenance for heavy earthmoving equipment. 

“A couple of customers approached us at different times asking for something that could hold the Hytorc tool to allow the operator to stand back and operate it instead of having to actually hold it in place,” Cant says. 

“It is mounted on our LA-40 arm and supports the weight of the Hytorc tool so it can be put in place without workers suffering from fatigue by holding up the heavy tool during operation. There is also less chance of people’s fingers getting trapped as the operation is now a one-person job.”

Workers in the mining sector have long suffered the impact of hand injuries due to the demands of heavy equipment and maintenance activities. These injuries can be extremely detrimental to mine workers, forcing them to leave their jobs as they usually never function the same once injured.

According to a 2013 bulletin from the Queensland Mine Inspectorate, the largest proportion of miners suffering serious hand injuries from 2007-2012 occurred while working on equipment.

Cant says injuries can also occur from the fatigue of holding the hydraulic tools, which is another area that is prevented with the Hytorc attachment tool. 

“One lady we spoke to from a major mining company strained her back while holding a 20-kilogram tool above her shoulders,” he says. 

“The Hytorc attachment tool was created to stop people from holding these heavy hydraulic tools, particularly above their shoulders. They become quite dangerous during operation.”

Cant says the Hytorc attachment tool allows maintenance activities using hydraulic tools to become a one-man job by removing the need for the person who is required to hold the tool. 

As the majority of these nuts and bolts are not in easy reach and can be in any direction, the manoeuvrability of the Hytorc attachment tool is vital to a successful operation.

“The one we’ve built provides full freedom of movement allowing the tool to be positioned in any orientation,” Cant says.

“You’re not just putting these on one dimension so manoeuvrability is important.” 

Cant says the Hytorc attachment tool solves a key issue in the worker safety area of mining operations. 

“Crushed finger injuries and muscle-skeletal injuries have always been an issue at mine sites,” Cant explains. 

The Hytorc attachment tool can prevent hand and muscular skeletal injuries when using hydraulic tools.

“And I think the Hytorc attachment tool is going to be received well by the mining industry.”

Long-term or permanent injuries are a serious factor that mine workers must consider each day they carry out maintenance tasks, and the Hytorc attachment tool removes a significant portion of this risk. 

This story also appears in the July issue of Safe To Work.

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