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A Water Fed Pole Suitability Guide

"Using a floppy water fed pole carries a higher risk for repetitive motion injury

than using a more efficient, stiffer pole" Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.d.

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Introducing

A WATER FED POLE SUITABILITY GUIDE

A Quick Note To the Secretariat, and the ANSI/IWCA I-14.1 Committee:

 

Dear Committee Members,

 

We propose changes to paragraph 5.1.2 as currently reads :

 

5.1.2   Employees shall be trained in the use and care of extension poles and water fed poles before they shall be permitted to use such equipment.

 

Training shall include but not be limited to proper inspection, assembly, erection and a full understanding of safe working conditions considering as a minimum, exposure to electrical sources and wind.

 

The training will be validated and a copy kept on file by the window cleaning contractor and be readily available to the building manager upon request.

 

 

Our suggested proposed wording for the change is as follows :

 

5.1.2   Employees shall be trained in the proper selection, use and care of extension poles and water fed poles before they shall be permitted to use such equipment.

 

Training shall include but not be limited to the proper selection, inspection, assembly and erection, and ergonomic use of any extension pole. Training should provide a full understanding of safe working conditions considering as a minimum, the risk for repetitive motion injury, the risk of being in the proximity of electrical sources and the dangerous effect of wind on an extended pole.

 

The training will be validated and a copy kept on file by the window cleaning contractor and be readily available to the building manager upon request.

 

 

 

Our rationale is attached in the form of a White Paper submission titled ‘A WATER FED POLE SUITABILITY GUIDE’ prepared by Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

 

The file name is ‘Submission to IWCA - I14 Window Cleaning Safety.pdf

 

Any difficulty opening the file, please write to perry@futureofcleaning.com

 

 

Best Regards, and thank you for your consideration …

 

Perry Tait

Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D.

Introducing

A WATER FED POLE SUITABILITY GUIDE

 

A submission to the IWCA ‘Window Cleaning Safety’ draft proposal for I-14, OSHA 12 January 2015

“Using a floppy water fed pole carries a higher risk for repetitive motion injury than using a more efficient, stiffer pole” Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D.

 

 

Prepared by :

Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. Perry Tait

(c) 2015 Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait Supporting Materials and Discussions at www.power-and-control.com

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

ABSTRACT

 

Compared to the use of ladders, the water fed pole has evolved as a safer alternative to cleaning high-reach windows.

Fall injuries related to working at heights, such as are typical of ladder related accidents, can be catastrophic, resulting in major morbidity and mortality.

The operator of a water fed pole remains on the ground, thereby reducing the risk of severe kinetic-type injury, however it exposes them to a constellation of potential repetitive motion-type injuries.

The water fed pole is a valuable, relatively new, category of hand tool in the ‘toolbox’ of the window cleaner and has been instrumental in decreasing the incidence of catastrophic falls from height.

Water fed poles of differing qualities are available today for a wide range of prices. Ergonomic assessment of the cheaper poles identified that they are noticeably ‘floppier’, making them more difficult to handle, and therefore significantly more likely to contribute to repetitive motion injuries. There is no industry standard or guide to identify the suitability of one pole over another for any particular job, often resulting in the buyer purchasing the cheapest option which may also be potentially injurious due to its inferior performance when used for professional window cleaning applications.

OSHA generally promotes the concept of ‘using the right tool for the job’. However there is currently no method for either an OSHA Official, a supervisor, or a worker to discern the appropriate use of water fed poles currently available in the workplace.

It is therefore incumbent upon our industry to develop a standard that suggests the appropriateness of any particular pole to the workload of any particular worker, in other words, in selecting ‘the right water fed pole for the job’.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

DEFINITION OF TERMS

 

‘Water fed pole’ means a telescopic extension pole, gripped in the hands of the operator, that enables the operator to clean high-reach windows from the ground.

‘Work’ means the amount of effort applied over a distance - so W = (F) x (s) where f is force and s is distance, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_(physics)

‘Window Cleaning’ means cleaning both internal and external window surfaces. We draw attention to the reader that many window cleaners would be required to clean both sides of a window, but only the external side with a water fed pole.

‘His / He’ means all persons of both genders. It is easier to read one gender reference and the industry is predominantly, but not exclusively male.

‘Floppy’ means the amount of flexibility displayed by the pole when a force is applied.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

UNDERSTANDING WATER FED POLE WORK CYCLES

 

A typical professional (full-time) water fed pole operator will use the agitate (up- down) stroke motion or the rinse (side-to-side) stroke motion with a stroke cycle of 1-3 seconds per stroke. For illustrative purposes, we propose to use a 2-second stroke cycle as typical. A complete cycle is the 2-movement ‘up-and-down’ or the ‘side-to-side-to-side’.

With a 2-second stroke cycle, this typical water fed pole window cleaner experiences 30 cycles a minute, 1800 cycles an hour, which translates to approximately 9000 cycles in a 5 hour working shift.

If he works 5 days per week, this is approximately 45,000 cycles per 20 hour work week, which, with a 40 week working year, is 1,800,000 cycles per year, equating to 18 million cycles in each 10 year period. Our premise is that the professional use of water fed poles exposes the worker to a highly repetitive, noxious stimulus which could potentially cause repetitive motion injuries. At the other end of the scale is a homeowner who cleans their own windows on their home once or twice a year, or a janitor who cleans their building three times a year. This type of worker may be referred to as an ‘occasional’ water fed pole window cleaner, considering that their exposure to the noxious stimulus is significantly less.

Between the ‘occasional’ and the ‘professional’ is a large range of window cleaners whose use of water fed poles ranges from occasional to full-time. Considering that this paper addresses repetitive motion injuries, we will identify and discuss three categories of window cleaners based on the extent of their exposure to repetitive motion:

1 Professional (we suggest over 10 hours per week) 2 Part-Time (we suggest 2-10 hours per week)

3 Occasional (we suggest less than 2 hours per week)


(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

WATER FED POLE FLOPPINESS

 

A water fed pole with a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio allows the operator to effect his work with the least amount of effort and is therefore a more efficient and potentially less injurious tool. Conversely, a floppier pole is potentially more injurious than the stiffer pole.

Over thirty years ago, the first water fed poles, commonly known as the Tucker Pole, were made from extruded aluminum tube, followed by extruded fiberglass tubes. About ten years ago, the compositions changed to hand-made hybrid composites (mixing fiberglass and carbonfiber in differing ratios), and ultimately to the current, much stiffer, hand-made 100% carbonfiber and high modulus carbonfiber tubes.

Aluminum and Fiberglass tubes are known to be cheaper, heavier and floppier. The introduction of carbonfiber produced a sea-change in our industry, giving the worker a much lighter, stiffer and thereby more efficient hand tool.

Pure High Modulus carbonfiber poles have the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio while pure Aluminum and pure Fiberglass poles have the lowest.

The most common descriptive term used in forums and Facebook Groups by actual window cleaners when they complain about the flexible nature of their fiberglass water fed poles is ‘floppy’. For the purpose of simplicity, we have therefore adopted the term ‘floppiness’ to describe the lack of mechanical efficiency in transmitting the motions of the worker into useful work at a distance.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

WATER FED POLE FLOPPINESS AND EFFICIENCY

 

To define efficiency, we can use the classic equation for ‘Work’ which is :

Work (W) = Force (F) through Distance (s)

As can readily be seen by the equation, it is important to understand that doubling

the distance that the force operates through, doubles the quantity of work.

When using a water fed pole, there are three dimensions of ‘work movement’ that

the worker attempts to effect at the glass (the work surface) :

1) an up-and-down force

2) a side-to-side force

3) a force against the glass

To effect one work cycle of the work at a distance, the operator must accelerate the

pole using a directional force, rapidly decelerate to arrest the movement, then rapidly accelerate again in the opposite direction, and finally rapidly decelerate to arrest the movement. This comprises one cycle. A floppy pole requires more work (i.e. force through a distance) to complete the cycle. This is because the operator must move the pole through significantly greater excursions to effect useful work at the glass, and the increased force required to arrest the whipping inertia of the brush at the glass.

In other words, the floppiness of the pole dictates the distance that the operator must move the pole in any particular direction to effect the work movement at the glass. The floppier the pole, the further the operator has to swing the pole to effect the same agitation or rinse function at a distance. It stands to reason that the inertia of a heavier pole, in combination with a greater floppiness requires more effort to accelerate, decelerate, arrest, and reverse the movement of the pole during the work cycle.

Efficiency is defined as using the least amount of work to accomplish a task.


(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

THE POTENTIAL FOR REPETITIVE MOTION INJURY

 

The biomechanics involved in manipulating this overhead bi-manual linear hand tool (the water fed pole) are awkward at best. This awkwardness, combined with the number of cycles experienced by the professional worker places the worker at increased risk for repetitive motion injury.

Repetitive motion injury is multi-factorial. The major risk factors identified by our analysis in order of their contribution to the likelihood of injury are as follows:

1) the efficiency of the pole

2) the work cycle frequency

3) the awkwardness of movement

It is our industry’s responsibility to find means to modify these risk factors to lessen

their likelihood to cause injury.

The most noxious risk factor is the inefficiency of a heavy and/or floppy pole,

considering that it requires the operator to exert a much greater effort to effect the work at a distance. This risk can be mitigated by using a lighter, stiffer pole. The contribution of this risk factor to injury is lessened proportionally with incremental changes in stiffness and weight.

The second risk factor (the frequency of work cycles) is the least modifiable, short of limiting the exposure to work.

An overhead linear bimanual hand tool (i.e. a water fed pole) forces the operators’ limbs and torso into awkward positions during the operating movement, with the risk of injury increased by reaching for windows to the far left or the far right of the operator. This third risk factor can only be attenuated by controls designed to modify the operators stance, grip and movement to more ergonomic positionings.


(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

BIOMECHANICAL EVALUATION

 

Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. observed the typical posture and action of a worker using both a floppy and then a stiff water fed pole, and drew the following observations:

“Generally the worker is using a ’T’ stance, as one might observe in the sport of fencing, with the back foot planted and externally rotated, and the front foot pointing generally in the direction of work. The pole is held in both hands with the inferior hand applying an overhand grip near the base of the pole, and with the superior hand supinated and grasping the pole at approximately shoulder height, the arm being adducted and medially rotated. An alternate position that is frequently used for the superior hand is with the hand pronated and applying downward pressure.

The repetitive work cycle that is unique to this tool generally can be described as either an upward thrusting motion or sweeping side-to-side motion. A biomechanical analysis of the operating motion reveals several areas of concern. As concerns the inferior hand, with the forward thrusting movement, the wrist is repetitively placed in both excessive radial and ulnar deviation. This may result in repetitive motion injuries such as De Quervains Tendinitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, etc.... Also, the inferior hand is frequently called upon to apply a rotatory movement to the long axis of the pole, thereby necessitating a strong gripping action. This may result in epicondylitis of the elbow, tendinitis of the wrist, etc.... In addition, the arm is frequently cycled through hyperextension with a flexed elbow. This may cause excessive traction on the ulnar nerve, predisposing toward neuropathy.

The positions described for the superior hand involve rotation and medial deviation, thereby placing the limb at a mechanical disadvantage during the forward

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

thrusting movement. This places excessive stress on the muscles of the rotator cuff, causing them to be recruited excessively in the power movement.

Concerning the lower back, in the ’T’ stance, the trailing leg is externally rotated during the power movement, causing stress on the sacroiliac joint, and the lower back in general, possibly expressing as lower back pain.

The upper back and neck are also stressed by the repetitive shoulder movements and upward gaze. This increases the risk of neck and upper back pain as well as stress headaches.

In order to reach awkwardly located windows with the water fed pole, the worker is frequently required to modify his posture. This is inevitably a more awkward operating position, which increases the risk of injury by recruiting more control muscles in the power movements.”

When surveyed in December 2014, over 50 professional window cleaners* identified wrist pain, numbness of fingers, elbow pain, shoulder pain, upper and lower back pain, neck pain and tension headaches*. These would be layman descriptions of symptoms relating to the conditions referred to above. The results of the survey are available on request.

* Survey available at www.power-and-control.com/injury-survey.html

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

 

Concerning the ‘awkwardness of movement’ risk, there is no current solution in the market place that addresses the ergonomic risks involved when using this type of tool. However, there is an opportunity to develop an educational program that teaches the operator less injurious methods of operation, such as switching hands, avoiding the use of control muscles for power movements, staying centered, and the theory of anatomically correct movement.

Considering financial implications, a 100% carbonfiber water fed pole with maximum stiffness-to-weight ratio costs up to three times more than a 100% fiberglass water fed pole with the lowest stiffness-to-weight ratio. Therefore, to mandate the use of high stiffness-to-weight ratio poles in every situation would not be feasible as there are many workers that are occasional or part-time operators, and their lower frequency of use lessens the potential for repetitive motion injury. Even though it is clearly the safer option, it is understandable that these lower-use operators would not want to over-invest in a water fed pole that they would consider as being ‘under-used’.

However, if an operator with a professional workload is ignorant of the potential danger for injury from using a floppy water fed pole, economic reasons may lead him, or his employer, to make the mistake of buying the less expensive floppy pole.

As the lack of pole efficiency greatly increases the amount of effort required to effect work, a practical guide that includes commercial considerations is needed to define what is an acceptable relationship between ‘operator workload’ and ‘efficiency of a pole’, such that a professional operator will identify with a lighter, stiffer pole while an occasional user may identify with a heavier, floppy pole.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

BACKGROUND TO THE DATA

 

A manufacturer has complete control over the composition of water fed pole telescopic tubes. Whether intentional or otherwise, the industry is gravitating toward producing water fed poles for ‘affordability’ with little published consideration for the risk of repetitive motion injury. Unfortunately the ‘affordable’ poles are also the least rigid.

Perry Tait is a manufacturer of water fed poles and, in that capacity, had a casual conversation with Dr. Mills about what he saw as an unaddressed problem in the water fed window cleaning workplace and invited Dr. Mills to observe and comment.

When Dr. Mills first saw the use of a rigid water fed pole, he generally commented on the biomechanical difficulties he observed. But, when he observed the operator using a flexible pole, he became alarmed at the exponential increase in risk of injury due to the mechanical inefficiency the floppy pole forces the worker to accept in order to achieve the work at the glass.

Considering the magnitude of morbidity that he felt would result in the workplace by allowing this condition to continue, Dr. Mills felt compelled to apply his expertise in Occupational Health to work towards establishing an industry standard for worker safety.

Consequently, the aim of preparing this paper is to establish a standard or a guide that can easily be used to match the right water fed pole for the job.

Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. is a currently licensed medical practitioner in the state of Texas, and is a former Medical Director of the Occupational Health Clinic in Fort Hood, as well as, being the Medical Director for the Preventative Medicine Department.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

DR MILLS OBSERVATIONS

 

Dr. Mills considered the full range of workloads and environments where workers operate water fed poles, as well as the full range of water fed pole compositions available, in determining the parameters of a standard.

In relation to the workers, Dr. Mills noted that, as window cleaners usually clean both the internal and external surfaces of their customers’ windows, it is realistic to assume that a typical window cleaner could perform up to 20 hours work per week cleaning external glass with a water fed pole. However, it is noted that there are also commercial water fed pole operators operating water fed poles up to 40 hours a week on commercial buildings.

Dr. Mills also observed and compared operators’ body mechanics during the use of three compositions of water fed poles, each with different levels of rigidity.

Dr Mills assessed the work cycle to be possibly injurious, with the risk of injury increasing with increasing workloads and pole inefficiency.

For example, with a task that only requires 3 repetitions of a work cycle to complete, the risk of repetitive motion injury could be deemed negligible. However, if the worker was required to repeat the same cycle 1,000 times, 5,000 times, or even 10,000 times per week, the risk for repetitive motion injury is proportionately increased. If this same requirement is repeated, but with the worker using a highly inefficient tool, the worker’s risk is increased yet again, and proportionately with the measure of inefficiency.

Considering only the work cycle, the bio-mechanics of the operators’ movements using a water fed pole, in Dr. Mills opinion, under 4,000 work cycles per week could be considered ‘low-risk’ for repetitive motion injuries, and over 20,000 work cycles per week could be considered ‘high-risk’ for repetitive motion injuries.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

Using a work cycle duration of two seconds, this equates to 2.22 hours and 11.11 hours of work per week respectively. For the purpose of simplicity, we have rounded this to ‘2 hours’ for low-risk’ and ’10 hours’ work per week for ‘high risk’ respectively.

Practically speaking, it is not realistic to suggest modifying the work cycle frequency as a variable, as people will choose for themselves how much they need to work. Consequently, the risk factor we recommend to be addressed the efficiency of the water fed pole in relation to the duration of use.

Dr Mills proposes two guidelines that, if implemented, would greatly decrease the risk of injury from using the ‘wrong tool’ for the job:

1) a maximum operator exposure to ‘an inefficient water fed pole’

2) a method to ‘define a suitable pole’ for use by professional operators

In order to accomplish these guidelines, there needs to be a way to measure the efficiency of any given pole, and then to match that efficiency to the magnitude of the workload.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

ESTABLISHING A WATER FED POLE EFFICIENCY METRIC

 

Pole stiffness is a measure of pole efficiency. The greater the rigidity, the greater the efficiency. Any decrease in pole rigidity detracts from the efficiency of the pole. An ideal, but unattainable level of efficiency would be a pole that was weightless and perfectly rigid.

Pole stiffness may be measured by its resistance to deflection by an applied weight. The greater the deflection by any given weight, the less rigid - and therefore the less efficient - the pole. The greater the deflection with any given weight, the ‘floppier’ the pole may be said to be.

The ‘measure of floppiness’ of a water fed pole can therefore be said to be a measure of the lack of resistance of the pole to deflection. By standardising the ‘extended length’ of a pole, and prescribing a ‘standard center deflection under load’, all poles can be rated.

We propose the extended length be twenty-five feet and the center deflection be one foot when loaded with weight.

We propose the amount of weight required to achieve a one-foot center deflection could be used as the Efficiency Index for the proposed system.

Test results reveal that a 100% carbonfiber pole requires ten times more weight to deflect one foot at the centre than a 100% fiberglass pole.

Test results also reveal that a hybrid pole requires four times more weight to deflect one foot at the centre than a 100% fiberglass pole.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

This indicates that the magnitude of the weight (in lbs) required to flex any pole by one foot is suitable to be used as an index of the efficiency of the pole.

The ‘inefficiency standard’ for this system is the 100% fiberglass pole that required approximately one pound of weight applied at the centre to deflect one foot. The ‘efficiency standard’ for this system is the 100% carbonfiber pole that required ten times more weight to deflect one foot. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the value of weight in pounds is used as the unit of Pole Efficiency.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

THE TEST OF POLE EFFICIENCY

 

The Test of Efficiency is as follows :

The standardised-length extended pole is suspended between two supports. Weight is then added to the center of the pole until the center of the pole displaces

by a prescribed distance. The resistance of the pole to flexing under the weight gives the measurable index for rigidity.

The standards for the Test of Efficiency are :

Use a pole extended to 25 feet length

Place the ends of the pole on mounts with an overlap of six inches. The ends of the pole must not be fixed to the mounts.

A 25 foot extended length ‘2 storey’ pole is used as the standard, because 80% of the glass area cleaned by the majority of workers is 25ft (2 storeys) and below**.

One foot is used as the standard for deflection, because this is the deflection of a 25 foot, 100% fiberglass pole under a one pound load at the center.

Four typical water fed pole compositions were tested:

A 100% Fiberglass to determine a standard for floppiness

A 100% carbonfiber to determine a standard for stiffness

A Hybrid Composition pole to establish an intermediate efficiency scale A High Modulus Carbonfiber pole as a matter of interest

An Aluminum Tucker Pole

 

**see article “Assessing Your Glass Area” by Perry Tait, 2014

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

The Efficiency Test is as follows: (see following page for illustration)

1) extend the pole evenly to 25 feet in length

2) free-mount the pole at each end on stands of equal height (e.g. chair backs)

3) Measure an equal 6 inch overlap of the pole over the mounted ends

4) measure the height of the mounted ends (a)

5) set a tape measure at (a) minus 1ft, this being the target deflection (flex)

6) Attach weight at the center of the pole and increase until you achieve the

target deflection at the underside of the center of the pole.

7) The amount of weight used in pounds is the Floppiness Index.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

THE BUCKET METHOD

 

As an alternative to using standardised weights, any worker could test their own pole by using a bucket and water (see illustration below). This would replace the above method from step 5).

1) extend the pole evenly to 25 feet in length

2) free-mount the pole at each end on stands of equal height (e.g. chair backs)

3) Measure an equal 6 inch overlap of the pole over the mounted ends

4) measure the height of the mounted ends (a)

5) Obtain a bucket with up to 5 litres (11lb) capacity

6) Hang the bucket at the centre of the extended pole and slowly pour

water into the bucket until the center of the underside of the pole is at the one-foot target deflection.

7) Determine the volume of the water in the bucket when the pole center flexes to the one-foot target deflection.

To determine the weight of water used: 1 litre of water = 1 kg. Multiply the number of litres by 2.2 to convert from kg to lbs. This value in pounds is the Floppiness Index.


(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

THE FLOPPINESS INDEX

 

We propose a guide that can be used by any operator to match the suitability of any pole with his workload. The operators’ workload in hours per week, as a Workload Index for the frequency of work cycles he will perform, is therefore a suitable parameter of the guide.

By using the standards of 2 hours per week for ‘low-risk’ and 10 hours per week for ‘high-risk’, any water fed pole operator can self-identify his workload risk and identify his workload with the descriptors:

’Occasional’ for under 2 hours per week

‘Professional’ for over 10 hours per week

‘Part-Time’ for between 2 and 10 hours per week

Pole floppiness is the most modifiable risk factor, since an operator always has the

possibility to invest in a stiff or floppy pole. Therefore ‘pole floppiness’ is the other parameter in the guide.

The Floppiness Index is equally as simple as the Workload Index.

A floppy pole is defined as a pole that deflects by one foot with less than two pounds weight, while a stiff pole can be defined as a pole that requires more than 10 pounds weight to deflect one foot.

A Floppiness Index of 2 or less suits a workload of 2 or less hours per week.

A Floppiness Index of 10 or more suits a workload of 10 or more hours per week. Between these two parameters is a linear relationship that can be applied safely to

determine the suitability of any particular water fed pole to the operators’ workload. A Floppiness Index of 4 suits a workload of 4 hours per week.

A Floppiness Index of 7 suits a workload of 7 hours per week, etc....



(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

THE FLOPPINESS INDEX AND WORKLOAD SUITABILITY GUIDE

This Index can be illustrated as follows:


It may also be prudent to adopt this guide in the form of a POLE SUITABILITY rating, displayed prominently by manufacturers on their poles (see below).

100% Fibreglass Pole :

Hybrid Pole :

100% Carbonfiber Pole :

1 lb weight to deflect

suit 2 hours / week workload

 

4 lb weight to deflect

suit 4 hours / week workload

11 lb weight to deflect

over 10 hrs / week workload


(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

CONSIDERATIONS OF FLOPPINESS INDEX and POLE SUITABILITY

 

The Floppiness Index is a measure of performance, not composition of the water fed pole. As it does not refer to the composition of any given pole, its usefulness will not be affected by changes in pole technology. The Index is also immune to manufacturers’ claims about any superiority in the composition of their poles.

The Floppiness Index, presented as a product rating, will enable manufacturers to present their products as the correct tool for any given workload. It would also empower the buyer of a water fed pole to buy the right tool for the job.

The Floppiness Index does not address the actual weight of the water fed pole. However, the Index does increase immediately with the initial flex of the pole under its own weight, as illustrated by the figures for the 100% Fiberglass Pole in this submission. In addition, we believe the water fed pole industry is mature enough for workers to identify and refuse to work with a pole that is excessively heavy.

The Floppiness Index is based on a 25ft pole span. For poles longer than 25ft, we recommend the operator compacts the pole to 25ft by compacting the handle sections, leaving the smaller diameter ‘top’ sections fully extended. Alternatively, for poles that are ‘pull-apart’, the operator can remove the handle sections, and test the upper 25 ft of the pole.

The Floppiness Index does not address Aluminum water fed poles. Further study and test results are required to determine where the characteristics of aluminum poles fit in our Index.


(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

CONCLUSION

 

Considering the significantly increased potential for repetitive motion injury when using an overly flexible pole over a significant period of time, we feel it is negligent to require a worker to use a highly inefficient, potentially injurious tool to do work, while knowing that a more efficient, and therefore less dangerous tool is available.

We believe that our industry will benefit from the introduction of a simple Index designed to indicate the suitability of a particular pole for a particular workload.

Therefore, we present this Floppiness Index and Workload Suitability Guide and Rating for adoption by the Window Cleaning Industry in the United States of America, free from royalty for the use of the copyrighted materials*,

*this offer is implicit not stated, is non-exclusive, and conditional on content being without variation, and formalised by a written agreement between the parties. The authors reserve all rights.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

ADDENDUM 1 - GRAPHS

 

GRAPH 1

THE RIGIDITY (EFFICIENCY) COMPARISON

GRAPH 2 :

THE DISPLACEMENT OF DIFFERENT WATER FED POLES

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

GRAPH 3 :

COMPARISON OF FLEXIBILITY UNDER LOAD

GRAPH 4:

COMPARING THE EXTRA WORK USING A FLOPPY POLE

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

GRAPH 5:

THE CHANGE OF EFFORT WHEN ACCELERATING A FIBREGLASS POLE

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

ADDENDUM 2 - FLOPPINESS DATA

 

The data presented in this submission was prepared by Perry Tait of Business Boost., Co. Limited (HK) as manufacturer of water fed poles, and observed by Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D.

The following details link the poles actually used with the data presented for ‘pole types’. All poles are manufactured by Business Boost Co., Limited (HK).

 

Floppy - 100% Fiberglass - ‘The Window Pole’

Hybrid - Hybrid of Fiberglass, Texium, & Carbonfiber - Multi-Pole

Stiff - 100% Carbonfiber - Reach-iT MINI High Modulus - Reach-iT PRO 3

 

Each pole was extended to 25ft to standardise the measurements.

A video of each test is available on request for the purposes of proving the accuracy of the data presented.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

POLE TEST DATA

POLE : 100% Fiberglass Pole

POLE : 100% Carbonfiber Pole

Perry Tait guarantees that the compositions of water fed poles presented in this paper are true and typical and the descriptions of composition are accurate. That said, the proposed Floppiness Index describes the behaviour of each pole, not its composition.

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait

POLE : High Modulus Carbonfiber Pole

POLE : Hybrid Carbonfiber Pole

(C) Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D. and Perry Tait