Imagine a work station where heavy tools are randomly scattered around. A work station like this poses risks and hazards to the worker and the tools themselves. Injuries, damage to tools and equipment, and a decrease in work efficiency are just a few of the problems associated with an unorganized work station.
Every year, approximately 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million occurrences of work-related illnesses take place globally. These estimates are periodically revised by the International Labor Organization and show a rise in accidents and illnesses.
To solve these problems, tool balancers were introduced. They are versatile and can come in handy no matter the nature of the work. In this post, we'll dive into five applications of tool balancers that you probably didn't know existed.
Injuries and Accidents in the Workplace
BLS data shows that the rate of workplace injuries is the highest in manufacturing jobs compared to other private industries in the United States. In 2019, there were 3.3 cases of reportable non-fatal injuries or illnesses per 100 employees in manufacturing, affecting 421,400 individuals who suffered injuries or illnesses while at work.
Overexertion and bodily reactions, slips, trips, falls, and contact with objects and equipment account for 84% of nonfatal injuries in the United States that result in time away from work. The majority of nonfatal workplace injuries in the country result from excessive physical activity, such as strenuous heavy lifting, pushing, and repetitive motions, as well as slips, trips, and equipment accidents.
Tool balancers are designed to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and accidents associated with improper handling of heavy tools. They provide a secure way to store, lift, and move tools safely up to 800 lbs. Tool balancers can also be used as an ergonomic solution for repetitive tasks that require precision and accuracy. The tool balancer system eliminates awkward body positions, reducing strain and stress on muscles.
What is a Tool Balancer?
Ergonomic tool balancers are devices used to hold and manage a wide variety of tools at a work station. Tool balancers work by helping to reduce the amount of effort required by operators to use hand-operated tools by holding them in a pre-set position. They are useful in various industrial applications where workers use heavy hand tools repeatedly in the same position.
In an assembly operation, ergonomic concerns are of utmost importance. If workers are expected to use heavy tools for long periods of time, then it's important that the tool balancer is positioned at a work station where there is no strain on the operator’s arms and hands. And the operator can suspend tools up to 800 pounds in weight from the tool balancer.
Basically, tool balancers free up the hands and arms of operators so they can work without strain or fatigue. The main components of a tool balancer system include the spring-loaded mechanism, cable, and a mounting bracket. By mounting these balancers in the right places, you can safely and conveniently keep your tools organized while also reducing fatigue and repetitive motion injury.
Retractor Tool Balancers
Retractor tool balancers are a great asset to any workplace. They help reduce the amount of time and effort needed to lift and move heavy tools, as well as making it easier to access them when they're not in use. These systems come with adjustable weight capacity and can be attached to walls or other surfaces for easy installation.
Zero Gravity Tool Balancers
Zero gravity tool balancers are a special type of balancer that makes the tool weightless.. These balancers work by using springs, allowing the workers to effortlessly move the tools around without strain or fatigue. This makes them an ideal solution for applications where heavy tools need to be moved frequently and with precision.
Spring Tool Balancers
Spring balancers are designed to reduce strain on the operator by counterbalancing the weight of the tool. They come in a variety of configurations including those that use adjustable springs, gas springs, and manual spring releases. Spring balancers are an excellent choice for applications where lifting and moving tools is required.
Air Hose Balancers
Air hose balancers are designed to be used with pneumatic tools. The suspension cable is also the air supply. That keeps the work station organized, eliminating the need for additional air hoses, which often are a tripping hazard.
Applications of Tool Balancers to Create a Safe Work Station
1. For Organizing Assembly Lines and Factories
Tool balancers provide a safe and efficient way for factory workers to store their tools while they work on different tasks in an assembly job function. With these balancers, tools can be securely hung up in the right place without fear of them falling off and damaging expensive machinery or injuring people.
2. For Securing Barcode Reader On Forklifts in Warehouses
Forklift operators rely heavily on quick access to their barcode readers, which should always be within arm's reach. This is where tool retractors step in to play a crucial role. These retractors securely hold the barcode reader in place, ensuring it remains easily accessible to the operator at all times.
The primary function of a tool retractor is to prevent the barcode reader from falling onto the ground or being carelessly left on a shelf. By maintaining the reader's position, it minimizes the risk of accidental damage and loss. This not only safeguards the equipment but also streamlines the operator's workflow, contributing to a more efficient and productive work environment.
3. For Suspending 35lb Impact Guns Used for Big Truck Wheels.
Impact Guns are essential for loosening and tightening lug nuts on large truck wheels. By counteracting the weight of the tool, they minimize operator fatigue and enhance precision during wheel maintenance tasks. This application ensures efficient and ergonomic use of heavy tools, promoting both worker well-being and effective truck maintenance..
4. For Smooth Operation in Automotive Shops
Automotive shops require special tools to work on cars efficiently and safely. A tool balancer is an important tool in this situation as it allows mechanics to access and use the right tools quickly while working on cars. With these balancers, mechanics can reduce strain on their arms and hands from lifting heavy objects, allowing for a smoother operation in the shop.
5. For Securing Assembly Tools in Aerospace Manufacturing
Aerospace manufacturing requires special tools and machinery in order to create aircraft parts. Tool balancers are essential in this situation as they provide a secure way to store, lift, and move heavy tools safely..
6. Reducing Operator Fatigue in Manufacturing Industries
Mechanical and electronic components in manufacturing industries require frequent and precise handling. Electronic components demand efficiency and accuracy, while mechanical components require the operator to have strong hand-eye coordination. In these situations, tool balancers help reduce strain on muscles by counterbalancing the weight of the tool, reducing operator fatigue and allowing for smoother operations.
A lightweight tool positioner like a tool balancer can help reduce the fatigue of operators while also providing quick and easy access to tools. This ensures that components are handled with care and precision for quality assurance.
7. For Increasing Productivity in a Manufacturing Workstation
An organized assembly workstation is essential for increasing productivity in any industry. Tool balancers help to keep tools organized and accessible while also reducing operator fatigue from frequent use of heavy tools. This makes them an ideal choice for industrial applications where workers need to quickly access the right tool without straining their arms or hands.
8. For Handling Heavy Duty Post Drivers In Fence Installation.
Utilized in building fences, tool balancers provide optimal support for heavy-duty post drivers, which are crucial for securely installing fence posts into the ground. By negating the tool's weight, they reduce operator strain and facilitate accurate and efficient fence installation. This implementation streamlines fence construction and promotes worker’s comfort.
Best Practices for Using Tool Balancers and Improving Workplace Safety
- Discuss ergonomic concerns with your staff and provide training on the proper use of tool balancers.
- Provide regular maintenance checks to ensure that your tool balancers are in good working order.
- Ensure that tools are properly secured to the balancer before usage.
- Make sure your health and safety inspector is able to inspect all components of the tool balancer system for any signs of wear or damage.
- Conduct routine meetings with your staff to review the safety guidelines for using tool balancers.
Tool Balancers vs Tool Retractors
Tool balancers and tool retractors are both designed to make it easier for workers to access the tools they need quickly without having to strain their arms and hands. While both provide a secure way of suspending tools, there are some key differences between the two.
Tool balancers provide a higher load capacity, with some able to hold weights up to 800 pounds. Tool retractors return tools to original position and typically have smaller load capacities and feature lower tension springs, making them suitable for lighter tools.