Preventing Rotator Cuff Injuries in the Garage Door Industry

A recent Door + Access Systems magazine survey concluded that the most likely garage door installer injuries were to hands, lower back, fingers, shoulders, the spine and eyes.

Tom Murnan of Omaha Door & Window notes that rotator cuff injuries constitute a high number of injuries in the garage door industry. There are several factors contributing to this:

  • Engaging in repetitive tasks
  • Overhead reaching
  • Heavy lifting
  • Increased risk due to aging of the working population

Omaha Door & Window took the initiative to begin a preventative program by first identifying target areas that could potentially lead to injury. As part of this endeavor, they hired two physical therapists and ergonomic specialists. After careful analysis of videos, measurements and use of ergonomic assessment tools, the risk factors were broken down for six essential job functions:

  1. Unloading door sections from an upper level
  2. Carrying door sections from truck to garage area
  3. Removing old door sections and placing them back on truck
  4. Installation of cable on the drum
  5. Winding torsion springs
  6. Installing horizontal stops

Next, ODW implemented recommendations from the physical therapists, including a warm-up stretching program for installers and employees who work in the warehouse. After sleeping all night and sitting in a vehicle to commute, employees immediate next experiences are lifting, pushing and pulling.  The stretching program promotes a neutral posture, an overall reduction in fatigue, improved range of motion in joints, relieves stress and improves flow of blood and oxygen the muscles and brain. All these positive attributes will help prevent injuries.

Another common-sense solution was placing two installers on a residential job. Using two installers for heavy sandwich double-car doors, and a single installer for smaller and lighter doors directly reduced the number of injuries.

Loading door sections in the truck bed, rather than the 95-inch height truck rack reduced the risk of stressing the neck, back and shoulders. And employing the use of a step stool helped as well.

A fourth solution was using portable lifting devices, such as a Genie Lift, Bottle Jack Door Lift Handler, mobile cranes, etc., on the bigger jobs.

Fifth, using spring winder tools allowed installers to face the torsion spring more directly, but stand further away.

Sixth, taking large bundles of door sections and re-bundling them into multiple, smaller bundles helped alleviate the need for heavy-lifting.

The final solution came in the form of continuous training and education. While it might seem obvious at first, applying constant reminders to always lift with the legs, using the power zone and holding items closer to the body reduces exertion and provides valuable risk prevention.