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Development Of A Mobile Manipulator To Reduce Lifting Accidents - Objective
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  • Description:
    Develop a mobile manipulator that one person can use to lift and maneuver 50- to 600-pound loads. It can be used in maintenance shops and mines to reduce lifting accidents (Figure 1 and 2). Background Lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace. Mine Safety and Health Administration statistics showed that, in 2004, back injuries accounted for over 20% of all injuries (1,699 cases) and resulted in 110,000 lost days of work. Forty-one percent of those injuries resulted from materials-handling or maintenance activities.1 In addition to back injuries, lifting injuries include hernias, ruptures, sprains, and strains resulting from losing control of the item being lifted. Factors associated with accidents are weight of the item being lifted, awkward postures, inadequate handholds, and the working environment itself. High accident rates were noted when lifting items that ranged from 50 to 600 pounds, particularly in tight working quarters where maneuverability was critical. Research indicated that a mobile lifting arm would eliminate many lifting accidents in environments where other lifting devices (fork lifts, overhead cranes, mobile A-frames) would not be practical. NIOSH has built a first-generation mobile manipulator unit designed to be used on hard, level floors such as in a shop. The complexity of motion, number of moving parts, compact design, and design constraints of the manipulator required advanced computer-aided design work (Figure 3). As a result of the design work, thirty-eight claims are included in the patent applications. NIOSH will be conducting field trails and working with manufacturers to put the manipulator into industrial use.

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