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The Solution to MSDs in Gas Distribution: Motorized Gas Cylinder Carts

Our engineering team has in recent years been pulled into another subcategory of material handling that is generating a high percentage of musculoskeletal injuries: gas cylinder distribution. It was brought to our attention by distributors and gas cylinder manufacturers that the moving of heavy and sometimes volatile gas cylinders causes injury under the following conditions:

  • Transport
    • Strains and sprains
      • Pushing and pulling to start, stop, and turn a loaded cart
      • Long and short distance moves on flat concrete floors, trucks, dock ramps, lift-gates, and along delivery routes across bumps, inclines, and doorways
  • Loading and Unloading
    • Hand injuries
      • Catching on hooks and pinch points as cylinder is loaded
    • Strains and sprains
      • Tipping cylinder and shifting it for better access or purchase

It should be noted that though distributors incur most of the injuries, gas cylinder users can also be vulnerable to them as well. The majority of the injuries occur during transport, while others are caused by unsafe loading and unloading. Without a new approach to gas cylinder cart transportation, gas cylinder distributors and gas cylinder users could be responsible for costs upwards of $60,000 per injury (See Fig.1), while losing valuable staff during necessary recuperation time post-injury. Regardless of the method of insurance coverage, businesses are still finding themselves responsible for 100% of all injury-related medical costs.
Fig 1.

Type of Injury Direct Cost Indirect Cost Total Cost
Hernia $23,083 $25,391 $48,474
Sprain $28,338 $31,171 $59,509
Strain $32,319 $35,550 $67,869

[From “Impact of Musculoskeletal Injuries in the Workplace”, by Ray Erbe; available from EKT]
In addition to the high risk of injury and resultant financial burden associated with unsafe gas cylinder distribution, when these gas cylinders contain flame accelerating gases, an otherwise avoidable accident could result in catastrophic damage should the cylinders be damaged to the point of leaking. With all three of these major concerns hindering the sustainability of current gas distribution logistics, it is understandable that gas cylinder distributors and manufacturers are seeking alternative ergonomic solutions.

Motorized Gas Cylinder Carts

What are the advantages that a motorized solution can bring? Each product is different, but looking at two types of motorized gas cylinder carts developed by EKT will demonstrate the possibilities. Working in conjunction with cylinder cart manufacturers and gas distributors, Electro Kinetic Technologies developed two types of motorized gas cylinder carts: an upright cylinder cart, and an inclined cylinder cart. Both provide motorized transport, a great help in reducing the many musculoskeletal injuries that result from simply moving cylinders around. In addition, the inclined cylinder cart provides for automated loading and unloading, further reducing strains and sprains, while also helping prevent hand injuries. The two models also include a braking mechanism to prevent carts from rolling away unguided. These added safety features eliminate many of the leading causes of unsafe handling of gas cylinder carts during loading, unloading, and transport, and also help prevent damage to the gas cylinders themselves. In contrast to manual cylinder carts, which rely entirely on the force generated by the operator, ergonomic motorized solutions help minimize required forces. Also, the resulting safety benefits come with little training needed thanks to the ease of operation built into these carts.

The Final Result

It is likely that ergonomic motorized gas cylinder carts are capable of reducing cylinder delivery and handling MSDs by more than 50%, creating a potential savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars for gas cylinder distributors. With additional workplace safety training, and adherence to safety procedures, businesses can expect to reduce gas cylinder-related injuries caused by mishandling of cylinders even further.
As engineers, we seek to create a total solution for each of our customers. If you’re interested in additional information on gas cylinder cart safety and solutions available, reach out to one of our staff members through the contact page.

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