Lifting Iron Covers - "Hazardous"

Men lifting manhole covers very hazardous

Heavy Iron Manhole Cover Lifting Costing Millions!

 $700,000 to over $1,000,000 per year is the cost of back strains lifting iron manhole covers for just one medium-sized utility operation. This incredible data was given to CAP recently by a utility engineer; each incident costs $70,000, and they have 10-15 incidents for strains lifting covers each year. CAP composite covers weigh half to one-third of current iron covers and should certainly reduce, and hopefully eliminate, this issue. 

Manhole cover lifting compresses spine

Spinal Compression deemed "Hazardous"

" becomes clear that manual lifting of (cast iron) manhole cover is extremely hazardous and has the potential for inflicting very serious injuries."  

- An Ergonomic Evaluation of Steel and Composite Manhole (Access) Covers, University of Cincinnati Ergonomics and Engineering Controls Research Laboratory

View/Download .pdf of University of Cincinnati Study
Manhole cover lifting devices costly and are not entire solution

Costly Devices Required - Still Not Total Solution

This type of lifting assist is a must for safe iron manhole cover lifting. But the average cost of $1,200 per unit and set up time should be considered as part of the added cost of iron.  Plus, these devices do not address initial movement on and off a truck bed, but merely hole maintenance activities.

Paper on Ergonomic Evaluation of Lifting Metal Covers

Back Injuries Predicted To Increase with Cover Growth


Back Injuries Plague the US Workforce

" ...over 36 percent of injuries involving missed workdays were the result of shoulder and back injuries. Overexertion and cumulative trauma were the biggest factors in these injuries."

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics


Confined Space Concerns Cause Increased Manhole Cover Weights

O.S.H.A. (29 CFR 1910.146) requires special procedures for confined spaces and describes a portal exit 24 inches or less "Restricted" for rescue service (Appendix F) . Since most standard manholes are 22 to 24-inch clear openings, the future holes will be larger than today's.  30-inch clear openings are now mandatory for new manholes in Texas, New Hampshire and an increasing number of states.  


Iron Density is 4 Times Composite Density

Density of Cast Iron= 7.2 grams/cubic cm

Density of Composite = 1.8 grams /cubic cm

That means for the same change in the cover size, the already heavier iron cover will increase 4 times more than the composite!!

Example: 125 lbs 26" iron cover might increase to 205 lbs for 32" cover while a composite cover of the same dimension would increase from around 75 lbs to 95 lbs - gaining 20 lbs vs. 80 lbs.

Don't Want To Break Your Back...Just CAP That! ®