Changing a valve? The ‘Flange Hanger’ will eliminate the need to hold it in place, reducing strain on your body.
07 January 2016 by Donald MacDonald
Have you ever identified a hazard in a workplace, but were unable to find a readily available engineering solution? Most of us at one time or another have been forced to look at either administrative controls or work practice changes to reduce an employee’s exposure to that hazard. In the hierarchy of controls, Ergonomists and other Safety Professionals always look for an engineering solution, as it is the most effective way to eliminate a known hazard.
At the Alberta Health & Safety Conference (www.hsconference.ca) held this past October in Banff I had the opportunity to meet James Courtenay, President of Flange Hanger. Prior to his current role Mr. Courtenay owned a maintenance and construction company that served the oil field. He has worked in the oil and gas field, specifically providing maintenance and operating equipment for 14 years. Mr. Courtenay explained that over his career, he had injured his back more than once. He found one of the most difficult tasks to be changing a flange or valve. Quite often the valve was heavy, it needed to held in an awkward position (high or low to the ground), and it needed to be held for an extended period of time while the bolts were put in place.
The risk factors that Mr. Courtenay describes, are the primary risk factors associated with manual material handling; high forces, awkward posture and prolonged duration. During his career he was always looking for a solution. After years of unsuccessfully sourcing a solution, he decided to invent his own. As the proverb says…. “Necessity is the mother of invention”!
The Flange Hanger comes in a variety of sizes (2” to 6”), it is held in place with two non-threaded bolts, and a thumbscrew. Once the second flange (or valve) has been secured in place with a sufficient number of bolts, the Flange Hanger can be removed, allowing the final bolts to be put in place (see video here). It is always helpful to eliminate unnecessary manual handling, which this device does. It is even more beneficial as the valves are often heavy and found in locations that require awkward postures.
Mr. Courtenay says, “I created the Flange Hanger to help prevent injuries to the young people working with Pipe, Valves and Fittings in any Industry, and so people with minor back problems can continue to work to support their family”. This product is new to the market (September 2015) and it is helping to solve a long time problem. I’d encourage you check it out at www.flangehanger.com.