It’s no surprise that ironworkers face a multitude of injuries on a regular basis while they are in the field. From pre-fabrication plants and yards to road and bridge construction, ironworkers perform demanding job site functions that often require repetitive tying motion while positioned in cramped conditions where they overexert their energy for eight or more hour shifts.
Mild injuries such as lower back fatigue to suffering more pressing disorders like musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) result in incurred costs to contractors such as workers compensation claims, higher insurance rates, and even unforeseeable labor deficiencies as a direct result.
Ironworkers can find some relief with the enhanced development and availability of rebar tying tools in the marketplace. From handheld operations to stand up rebar tying tools, ironworkers can look at integrating this kind of technology to avoid MSIs and fatigue from the labor-intensive job functions.
While this technology has not yet evolved to perform more complex ties such as saddle ties, these tools are an excellent option to quickly finish tedious snap ties.
Challenges of Manually Tying Rebar
The effects of rebar tying by hand, over the course of several years, has its outcome both long and short term on ironworkers’ health, as well as its contractors who em¬ploy them. Incurred cost of worker comp claims, job site injuries and even third-party damages has always been and will continue to drive the cost of insurance policies for contractors.
The unallocated costs of project delays, permits, and oth¬er factors all fall as a direct result when workers get hurt on the job and need to take time off, which can sometimes turn to longer than anticipated absence of time. Because of this, contractors are faced with looking for assistance in hopes of finding experienced ironworkers as replacement crew members.
By providing ironworkers the tools necessary to perform their jobs efficiently and safely, they can work without the concern of injury or fatigue after several hours of hand tying. Contractors can equate this cost against insurance claims and even calculate project costs by measuring each spool/ties needed to carry out the job.
Adrian C. Chicago, IL Steel Reinforcing Contractor:
“Hand tying rebar takes a toll on the human body, especially when working 10-hour shifts 5 or even 6 days a week. Having the ability to provide our ironworkers rebar tying tools has allowed us to work faster over the course of the day, with less impact on the crew’s body, and even avoid any carpel tunnel cases on our job sites. Since we added the Max TwinTier tools amongst our crew we have seen greater productivity and faster times on the job. The ties are more reliable, tighter and each spool is giving us 220 ties compared to 120 like other models, which allow our ironworkers more time tying and less time changing our spools.”
Labor Shortage Challenges
While the ironworkers are constantly adding new apprentices to local chapters, union contractors are faced with labor shortages, as is the entire construction industry. Contractors can look to educate ironworkers on the use of battery powered rebar tying tools, to help automate a tedious job that allows workers to be more productive. Additionally, Contractors can minimize worker comp cases and decrease business insurance rates by ensuring that each team has access to this technology. By doing so, the risk of injury or long-term strains can be mitigated and alleviate the labor shortages that incur because of it.
Overall employment of ironworkers is projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all other occupations. Steel and reinforced concrete are an important part of commercial and industrial buildings. Any future construction of these structures is expected to require ironworkers. The need to rehabilitate, maintain, or replace an increasing number of older highways and bridges is also expected to lead to employment growth in the industry.
Jim A. Essex, MD Steel Reinforcing Contractor:
“From originally utilizing the RB395 from Max, we have now upgraded to the RB441T. In my area there has been a shortage of union ironworkers and we can count on the use of these tools - What typically takes eight rodbusters hand tying, we can work with six crew members using the Max RB441T for the exact same outcome.”
Benefits of Battery Powered Tying Tools
• By incorporating rebar tying tools into daily operations, ironworkers can avoid the stressful hand and wrist activity that can lead to tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other MSIs which often require ironworkers to take time off from the job.
• The use of battery powered rebar tying tool helps promote social distancing guidelines since less ironworkers are needed to complete the tying work. This frees up others on the crew to focus on other job site activities.
• Contractors can confidently and safely allow entry-level union ironworkers on job sites with the use of rebar tying tools. The tools require minimal training and automate the tying action within 1/2 a second per tie. Less time training and supervising allow for faster rebar tying, while working ahead of the project schedule.
Michael T. Relyin, Director Department of Reinforcing Iron Workers:
“The use of Max battery powered rebar tying tools has improved productivity for some types of rebar installations. Productivity is important, but the benefits of reduced wear and tear on the ironworkers back, hands, and wrist are paramount. Fewer injuries results in a more lucrative career and a better quality of life for our reinforcing ironworker members.”
Maintaining Productivity & Enhancing Ironworker Safety
During February 2003, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a management request for a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) from Genesis Steel Services, Inc. (GSSI).
GSSI requested that NIOSH:
• Evaluate the risk that reinforcing ironworkers have for developing back and hand disorders as a result of hand-tying reinforcement steel on concrete bridge decks and other large concrete slab jobs; and
• Investigate whether the use of reinforcing steel battery powered tying tools can be an effective intervention for the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) of the upper limbs and back.
NIOSH Investigator evaluated workers’ risk of developing back and wrist disorders associated with tying rebar and the possible benefits of using a battery powered tier (BPT) as a substitute for manual tying to prevent upper extremity and low back musculoskeletal disorders.
• The risk for developing a hand and wrist musculoskeletal disorder was reduced when the BPT or BPT+E were used.
• Workers supported their upper body weight with their free arm when tying at ground level using the BPT.
Fred H. Codding, Executive Vice President, National Association of Reinforcing Steel Contractors (NARSC):
“Max USA Corp. has a very experienced team to help reinforcing steel contractors and field workforces. Its marketing strategy has included participating in Iron Worker programs and voluntarily conducting training sessions during Local Union Apprenticeship classes. These have been exceptional. Further, Max representatives have actively participated in meetings of reinforcing steel contractors to demonstrate the potential cost and safety advantages of its equipment.”
Delivering Reliable & Safe Operations in The Field
To help overcome and efficiently adapt to these new challenges, Max USA, Corp. is working with contractors and developers to sustain core business functions, in the field, by deploying the TwinTier as an enhancement to rebar tying operations. The safety equipped TwinTier® RB441T is a very fast solution for tying #3 x #3 to #7 on #7 rebar combinations. TwinTier® technology allows the RB441T to tie 4,000 ties per charge, while delivering just the right amount of wire for greater productivity and cost savings. Compared to hand tying this tool can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Max is committed to manufacturing reliable tools that have been designed to deliver enhanced performance while making sure that users can carry out safe operations.
MAX USA Corp.
205 Express St. Plainview
NY, 11803, U.S.A.
T +1 516 741 3151
T +1 800 223 4293
F +1 516 741 3272