Martin Gosselin of Saint-Isidore, Que. has won this year’s F X Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production with a simple device that improves safety while using a wand washer.
The award was presented at the 2021 Banff Pork Seminar by Ben Willing, a University of Alberta professor and chair of the awards committee.
Gosselin, who works with the Quebec-based feed company Agri-Marche, won his award for an innovative “safety bracelet” grip control for power washers in the barn. Power washers require enormous force, and the repetitive effort by workers to control them can lead to a range of occupational health issues of the forearm.
Typically these washing wands are controlled with some makeshift holders or not at all. Drawing from ideas he saw in the watercraft, snowmobile and cycling industries, Gosselin designed a grip that allows the worker to hold and fully control the trigger without undue strain. It also ensures its safe use by allowing easy shutdown of the equipment.
“That simple but effective solution is a fitting winner for the Aherne Prize,” Willing says in a release. “This prize honours individuals who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology. Those grassroots inventions draw widespread interest because they make a real difference in production.”
Gosselin says it takes a lot of strength to maintain a constant grip on the trigger of a washer gun with a pressure of 3,000 psi.
“The constant maintenance of the necessary strength promotes the development of occupational diseases of the hand and forearm such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, epicondylitis or epitrochleitis,” says Gosselin. “In order to release the strain on the wrist and forearm, staff have developed a practice of locking the trigger in the engaged position with tape or a tie wrap.”
“I drew a parallel between our problem and the use of a key to a personal watercraft or snowmobile attached to the user’s wrist,” says Gosselin. “The user maintains the starter key with continued ability to immediately shut down the equipment in the event of a fall or loss of control situation.”
Along with attaching something to the wrist, he also had a distant memory about a trouser clip for cyclists. Some version of that clip might be used to hold the trigger.
“The combination of the key of a watercraft and this old memory of cyclists inspired my thinking,” he says.
Gosselin says the R &D behind the final safety bracelet involved trial and error with different materials including a chain attached to a cat collar going around the wrist while at the other end he attached some plumbing materials to hold-down the gun trigger.
“After a trial period of nearly four months by several workers, this retention tool now consists of a stronger strap on the wrist,” says Gosselin. “A stronger and longer chain has replaced the initial chain, and a breakaway clip was designed to hold the trigger.”