Award-winning bracelet hopes to make pressure washing safer

The device developed by a Quebec hog supply company won the 2021 F.X. Aherne Prize for innovative pork production

Anyone who has used a pressure washer for any length of time has likely experienced hand and forearm fatigue or tennis elbow from the need to grip and engage the spray gun.

It is a factor for hog barn workers with duties to clean and disinfect barns and various facilities within the operation. The process can take hours.

Some workers resort to taping the spray gun mechanism open, but that can lead to injury if the handler loses control and the high-pressure gun and hose start dancing around unhindered.

Martin Gosselin of Agri-Marche, a Quebec-based hog production and supply business, knew this and took steps to remedy the problem.

He is the winner of the 2021 F.X. Aherne Prize for innovative pork production. The award was announced Jan. 7 during the on-line Banff Pork Seminar.

“This is an innovation that makes life in the barn a lot easier,” said awards committee chair Ben Willing when announcing the winner.

Speaking through an interpreter, Melanie Fortier of Agri-Marche said the constant need to squeeze the trigger causes forearm strain and injury. As well, workers have been injured after falling in slippery conditions, losing control of the wand and then being sprayed with pressurized water or struck by the wand or hose.

Gosselin fashioned a way to keep the gun engaged with a chain and fashioned a strap that attaches the wand to a worker’s wrist. If the worker loses control of the wand, the mechanism automatically disengages the trigger.

His prototype involved a cat collar that releases under tension, and the chain from a toilet flushing system.

Later versions use a heavier chain and more durable strap.

The invention is not patented and not for sale, but is only currently being used in Agri-Marche facilities, Fortier said.

That leaves the door open for people to develop their own similar device to protect workers.

The first-place winner of the R.O. Ball Young Scientist award is Mariia Tokareva of the University of Saskatchewan for her work on the impact of providing periodic exercise on the welfare of stall-housed gestating sows.

Second place went to Joaquin Sanchez-Zannatta of the University of Alberta for his work on feeding barley instead of wheat grain to achieve similar growth performance in weaned pigs.

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