From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Lifting Assists

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH


Awkward lifta
Lift in constrained area; possible use for cradle

Principles affected

Related pages

Material handling


Lift heavy objects from awkward positions, in constrained areas.

Many techniques described in the Material Handling Knowledgebasecan be used for maintenance tasks. The following are a number of best practices related to common maintenance tasks.



Eliminate the need to lift manually.

Ideas and Options


Arm to swing heavy valve out of way

Arms can be particularly helpful for maintenance tasks that involve frequent removal of heavy items. The example above shows an arm that was installed to to swing a valve out of the way for regular preventative maintenance. In this case, the arm eliminated the need to use two to lower the valve to the floor and then later lift it back up into position. With the arm, only one person is needed and does not involve heavy work. The arm is now a permanent part of the equipment.

Arm1 Arm2
Arm over generator Close-up of base: Pipe-inside-a-pipe

A similar arm used to lift a generator. Swing arms like these can be very low cost, fabricated by placing “a pipe inside a pipe.”

In this example, there were several such generators. A base was constructed at each location and the arm and hoist was moved from place to place.

Manhole cover lifter

This topic refers to manhole covers, but the lift assist can be used for any plates at floor level, or indeed any steel item.

Manhole1 Manhole2
Magnetic lift dolly ( “Protractor” lift rotates to side

Manhole covers are particularly difficult to lift, both because of the weight and lack of a handhold. Recently, a variety of different lifting devices have come on the market. Many use portable electromagnets to attach the dolly or other lifting device.

Hole tapped for eyebolt

This large facility tapped the holes in their covers for eyebolts, taking advantage of easy access to forklift trucks.












Some lifter-transporters have been designed specifically with certain maintenance (or construction) tasks in mind, although they could easily be used elsewhere. Conversely, there are many other types of lifter-transporters that can be used for maintenance lifting tasks.