Slide Sledge’s frame hammer is challenging the continued use of sledgehammers due to its winning safety benefits for both the user and mine site. Safe to Work learns about the innovative tool with its Australian distributor Securefix.
In the 1980s, a then-amateur boxer was battling for a spot in the United States team for a fight against an Irish competitor.
The boxer, Kevin Lowther, kept his dream alive by doing auto body repair to pay the bills.
He was trying to hit a hammer one day when it bounced off and broke his hand – a critical tool for not only his boxing ambitions but also in life.
Unsatisfied by this setback, Lowther started inventing a tool that would enable him to continue working while his hand was recovering, and picked up the product development again after retiring from boxing.
This tool, called the Slide Sledge frame hammer, is now used day in, day out by mine employees across 15 sites in Australia.
The innovation broke ground by catching the eyes of the industry back in 1999. The multi-head hammer won the New Innovation of the Year and Product Demo of the Year awards at a Dallas tools show from manufacturing company Mac Tools.
Its popularity owes to the impact-transfer mechanism that allows a heavy drive bar to travel in a steel chamber and facilitate multiple job-specific repair tips for a range of applications.
The linear motion delivers precise blows to impact surfaces, eliminating the catastrophic risk of a striking injury presented by a traditional sledgehammer.
“For workplace occupational health and safety, it’s critical you go to great lengths to prevent such impact injury,” says Andrew Rodgers, director of Securefix, which oversees Slide Sledge hammers’ national distribution across Australia and New Zealand.
“The Slide Sledge frame hammer is one of the only tools in the world of its type that is extremely safe to use and impact-safe.
“It enables a one-man operation, it is very safe, it is very light, and with the exchangeable tips, it makes a very versatile tool that you can use for all sorts of things.”
With safety at the core of Slide Sledge frame hammer, it is no wonder that the tool assists in heavy equipment maintenance and repair, while also being safe to use underground.
The exchangeable soft tips, made of copper and brass, prevent sparking, which is a key safety concern in underground operations.
“You can’t have cases of sparking underground. If you use a traditional tool, it’s likely you’ll create sparking and potentially ignite fires,” Rodgers says.
With such winning quality, Slide Sledge isn’t limited in the number of tips available for the frame hammer.
Depending on the application, mine employees can choose from pin drivers for the removal of pins from heavy equipment; bucket tooth pin remover and inserter for access to hard-to-reach pins; curved chisel tip for breaking or shearing rusty bolts and nuts; to scarifier tooth tip for the removal of ripper teeth from heavy equipment.
And still, the list of application goes on. The continuous miner tip, for example, is also available at one’s disposal to eliminate the need for a chisel or punch and chance of glancing hammer blows when removing the teeth from continuous miner equipment.
The utility wedge tip is also designed to separate parts and straighten steel in a safe and timely manner, while the race/bearing/seal adaptor tip installs races, bearings and seals with ease.
“The Slide Sledge frame hammer can pretty much be used across all applications where something needs removing,” Rodgers says.
“It’s not at all an overly complicated tool. The multitude of tips attach so easily every time you need to change it according to your needs.”
Tasks such as knocking out a pin, reaching tight or awkward spaces, or loosening and tightening bolts become a one-man job, with impact force deliverable simply by a user’s fingertips.
Its capacity for precision means no inaccurate or missed swings or secondary damage to valuable equipment and personnel.
With Slide Sledge hammer union tip, all wing tabs are impacted on the same spot with direct contact, reducing the chance of the tool and tip slipping off when impacting.
The potential for fatigue, muscle strains and lost time injuries is reduced. Mining operators can also enjoy increased productivity, reduced work time and increase their focus on safety and productivity.
“Slide Sledge is an answer to mining operators’ pursuit for tonnes of production that is so precariously balanced with the demand of equipment maintenance needed to deliver those tonnes,” Rodgers says.
“Mine employees can put safety back into the picture while working towards production targets and deadlines.”
Slide Sledge hammers are still manufactured in the United States today. However, they are now being utilised worldwide across multiple industries, including mining.
This article will appear in the next issue of Safe to Work.