OhioBWC - Employer:  (Safety & Hygiene) - Innovation Awards finalists

BWC Safety Innovation Awards

2017 finalists and their innovations

Ames Arboreal Group - JosieBea micrograpple truck

Ames Arboreal Group is a full-service tree and brush trimming and removal contractor. Most tree trimming companies use a brush chipper to grind up tree limbs and convey the chips into a truck bed to be hauled away. Workers typically drag tree limbs from the work site to the chipper. Then one or two workers lift them and thrust them into the feed hopper of the chipper, where the blades are located. Workers must do this without the blades grabbing the wood and kicking it back at them, or jamming the free movement of the blades. Workers must wear protective equipment, including hard hats, hearing protection, eye/face protection, gloves and substantial clothing because of the many hazards that chippers create. They must often move quickly to avoid being struck by branches as they whip around and are drawn into the chipper. Also, jams sometimes occur, resulting in down time and dangerous onsite repair work.

Description of the innovation Video
The JosieBea is a micro-grapple truck that Nathan Ames, certified arborist and owner of Ames Arboreal Group, visualized, engineered and physically built. Development began with an experimental prototype and evolved into the final design through technical discussion and verbal encouragement from employees, friends and associates in the industry. The micro-grapple truck eliminates the need for using a wood chipper at the work site by allowing the individual limbs and pieces of the trunk to be lifted with the grapple and dropped into the dump trailer. It can be used on all jobs, even on tight inner-city residential streets, because the footprint is less than 20 feet long, and it is used with a 10-foot dump trailer with a capacity of 720 cubic feet.


  1. Reduces potential for traumatic injuries from contact with blades and getting pulled into the chipper
  2. Reduces potential for injuries to the eyes, face and all parts of the body due to limbs whipping back and forth when feeding them into the chipper
  3. Reduces potential for hearing loss from high noise exposure
  4. Reduces potential for overexertion from manual lifting and rapid movements when feeding the chipper
  5. Improves productivity


C&K Industrial Services Inc. - Hydroblasting robot

C&K Industrial Services provides heavy-duty vacuuming and pressure washing services for cleaning sewer lines, pipes and various industrial equipment and facilities. The pressure washing service requires workers to use handheld power washing wands that deliver water/cleaning solution at up to 40,000 psi to clean various types of industrial equipment and facilities. Working with pressurized lines and the high pressure water increases potential for traumatic injuries because it can easily bruise and even tear through human skin at typical working pressure. Also, losing control of the wand can damage facilities and equipment, and hurt other people in the area. Manual pressure washing operations also involve sustained bending, reaching and twisting while exerting forces of up to 100 pounds. This results in operator fatigue and potential for overexertion injuries. The back spray from the pressure washing operations also contains various chemicals and debris which can cause eye injuries, skin irritation and respiratory ailments. In some cases workers must perform these operations in confined spaces which sometimes contain hazardous atmospheres.

Description of the innovation Video
C&K reviewed their various hydroblasting operations to determine space restrictions, working heights, reach requirements, water pressures and gallons per minute that the jobs typically require. The company shared this information with Smart Water Systems (SWS) - a division of Pressure Systems Inc. - to design and fabricate two different all-terrain, remote-controlled, hydroblasting robots. The robots have an articulating arm for high-level work and one for lower-level work. C&K managers and employees worked closely with the vendor by providing additional input and performing the final testing and proofing prior to full implementation. Operator input was especially helpful in determining the proper design, layout and operation of the remote-control modules.


  1. Reduces potential for traumatic injuries from contact with high pressure water stream
  2. Reduces fatigue and potential for soft tissue injuries by reducing awkward postures and forceful exertions associated with using the handheld spraying wands
  3. Reduces the potential for eye injuries, skin irritation and respiratory ailments from exposure to backspray and contaminants
  4. Reduces the need for entering confined spaces that might contain harmful air contaminants .


Holloway, Henderson & Martin LLC - Scaffold caddy

Holloway, Henderson & Martin LLC is a masonry contractor that performs both interior and exterior construction and restoration work for all types of businesses. Prior to the innovation, workers manually carried scaffold frames and other components to where they would erect the scaffold. The frames weigh approximately 60 pounds and the scaffold planks weigh about 40 pounds. Workers must sometimes carry these components long distances. In addition to increasing the potential for overexertion, this process involved numerous trips back and forth to the truck. This increased the potential for trips and falls and added to the set-up time.

Description of the innovation Video
The company's innovation is a multifunctional cart fabricated to eliminate the manual carrying of scaffold components into buildings. The company designed the cart to pass through a man door and safely transport scaffolding, scaffolding components, masonry equipment and many other construction products to where workers need them. The cart features purposely designed brackets, baskets and tubing to securely contain and transport product. Fully loaded with scaffolding and components, the cart can pass through doorways, fit onto elevators and maneuver down busy corridors. The cart can also be used to store the scaffolding during a lunch break, overnight or until workers need the scaffolding again. .


  1. Reduces potential or fatigue and overexertion due to carrying the various components over long distances
  2. Reduces potential for pinched fingers while carrying components through doorways
  3. Reduces potential for slips, trips and falls by reducing the number of trips to retrieve the various components
  4. Reduces time spent transporting components to work location


ICP Adhesives and Sealants - Pneumatically-operated cylinder clamp

ICP Adhesives and Sealants is a manufacturer of adhesives and sealants for the construction industry. Prior to implementation of the innovation, workers on six production lines used manually-operated clamps to attach filling nozzles to cylinders that are filled with a sprayable, foam-in-place insulation material for construction and remodeling projects. The force needed to squeeze the clamps when attaching them to the cylinder valves was between 50 and 60 pounds with each worker typically filling 100-250 cylinders each day. The workers also had to exert a similar force when opening the clamps to remove the filling nozzle, further increasing the potential for soft tissue injuries. Another major problem was workers sometimes forgetting to evacuate the filling lines and/or close the valves on the cylinders after filling them. In some of these cases, workers got sprayed with the product and suffered injuries; in all cases, the release of the product created a mess in the work area which involved a time-consuming and hazardous clean-up process using acetone.

Description of the innovation Video
To address the problem, the process improvement engineer worked with in-house engineers, the line operators and a sales rep from a pneumatic control supplier to develop a pneumatic clamping mechanism. This mechanism eliminates the need for manually squeezing the clamp when attaching the filling nozzle to the cylinder valve and removing it. They also designed the system with electronic controls and monitoring devices to prevent accidental release of the chemical when removing the clamps. The company has installed the pneumatic clamps at all six production lines.


  1. Reduces potential for tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other soft tissue injuries from repetitive, forceful manual operation of the clamps
  2. Reduces potential for eye injuries, skin irritation and respiratory irritation from accidental release of the product
  3. Reduces loss of product and time involved in cleaning up after accidental releases
  4. Allows operation to be done by people with lower than average grip strength requirements
  5. Improves productivity and consistency in the filling process


Suburban Steel Supply Company - Electric transfer cart

As a structural steel fabricator, Suburban Steel Supply Company handles steel products weighing as much as 5,000 pounds and measuring up to 60 feet long. Workers would move these products from the saw building, through the production shop and finally into the paint building on carts that ride on tracks that are embedded in the floor. Prior to implementation of the innovation, multiple employees or workers using forklifts would manually push the carts through the process. When workers used forklifts to push the carts, they were sometimes in danger of being struck because they were not always aware of the moving equipment and material, especially when their welding hoods were down. Also, the forklift operator could not always see them when pushing long material from the back. The manual movement of carts on the rail track also presented a risk of injury to employees - primarily slips, trips and falls and muscle strains due to the excessive manual force required to move the carts.

Description of the innovation Video
This safety innovation involved motorizing the existing transfer carts with battery operated motors and gear reducers. A team of associates representing the production, engineering, maintenance and fabrication departments was involved in the project along with consultants for circuit board design and mechanical conveyance of the carts. The company first developed a prototype before making multiple modifications and arriving at the final design. With the motorized carts, employees activate the motor with a handheld controller and simply walk beside the cart. The motorized carts have a laser scanner on the front and rear of each unit to automatically stop the movement of the cart if it senses a person or object in the pathway.


  1. Reduces potential for struck-by accidents involving forklifts in the fabrication shop
  2. Reduces potential for strains, sprains, slips and falls related to manually pushing the carts
  3. Improves efficiency and productivity