Find a Distributor

Darcor caster solutions are available wherever you need them!

Search Distributors by Geographic

Make your selection(s) below to find a distributor near you who can help generate results from the ground up.

Revolutionizing Roll: Re-Evaluating Push/Pull Testing in Caster Ergonomics

In the realm of ergonomics and workplace safety, the methods by which we analyze risk are instrumental in lowering injury rates. It is typical to assess the worst-case scenario the worker will have to undertake and improve from there; this is typically when peak force is produced. Sometimes this can be obvious, like an awkward posture or lifting heavy equipment. But in terms of push/pull testing, that “worst case” or peak force can be less clear. Most practitioners would say it’s the initial force; the force required to overcome inertia. Which might not be wrong. But did you check to see which way your casters were facing? Assuming they will always be facing forward is a big stretch and not one we choose to do at Darcor. We advocate for testing that includes when the casters are perpendicular to the direction of travel, defined as swivel force. Swivel force is where practitioners will find this peak force or worst-case scenario. Let’s dive into why you should test your casters for swivel force, beginning with the subjectivity in testing.

The Subjectivity in Push/Pull Testing

Imagine two ergonomists, equally skilled and experienced, using the same force gauge for a push/pull assessment. You’d expect identical results, right? Surprisingly, that’s not always the case. This discrepancy has been observed in tools like the modified RULA (Rimando et al., 2019). The subjectivity is further highlighted when assessing initial and sustained forces, and other well-defined terms in the field.

The Misconception of Initial Force

Initial force refers to the amount of force needed to overcome inertia, while sustained is the force required to maintain motion (ISO, 2007). It is well known that significant force is required to overcome inertia, thus many practitioners will base their recommendations on lowering this initial force, assuming it’s the worst scenario. However, this doesn’t consider the orientation of the casters before motion begins. Speaking from experience, several practitioners fail to consider caster orientation, or simply test the cart when the casters are in the direction of travel. In reality, consistently aligned casters don’t accurately represent task demands.

The Importance of Swivel Force – The True Peak Force

Peak force is a more valuable metric as it shows the maximum force exerted throughout the task. Concerning push force testing, peak force would be experienced during the initial force when the casters are perpendicular to the direction of travel, i.e. swivel force. Traditional testing protocols and push/pull analysis tools overlook this, leading to incomplete assessments and potentially unsafe recommendations. An example of this scenario would be if an ergonomist negated caster orientation or conducted tests exclusively with the casters aligned in the direction of travel. In such cases, the practitioners would emphasize the importance of ensuring that the task complies with relevant guidelines, being push forces pf 50lbs or less (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2023). Moreover, recommendations will address this initial reading, but that is not the limiting factor. So, an improvement could be made but the peak forces were never identified or addressed, leaving room for risk.

The Need for Re-evaluation

It’s time to redefine push/pull testing to include caster orientation, finally capturing the peak force. By incorporating swivel forces into our standard testing procedures, we can provide higher-quality assessments that prioritize worker safety and well-being.

Working with Darcor

Struggling to find the right caster that meets your needs? Our caster selector sets a new industry standard for simplicity and sophistication. Here’s how it works: first check your industry, preferred tread material and options. Then move the sliders to set the per caster load capacity and wheel diameter you are looking for. Check it out!

Healthcare Ergonomics: What is It and Why is It Important?

Caring Enough to Prevent Injury for Those Who Care For Us 

Reducing the Risk of Injury to Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers (HCWs) are the backbone of the medical industry, and their well-being is crucial to ensuring that patients receive the best care possible. Unfortunately, the risk of injury is a persistent threat in this field. Chronic injuries, particularly sprains and strains of the upper body and back, are the most prevalent among healthcare professionals. A problem that has only been intensified since the onset of COVID-19 due to an increased patient load in hospitals, necessitating more transportation of patients and equipment. This heightened activity comes when the industry is already experiencing a shortage of healthcare professionals, exacerbating the risk of injury. 

Common Injuries

According to a poignant case study in the Perioperative Setting by Gurb and Dockery, which conducted an ergonomic assessment in a 14-room surgical suite, 79% of registered nurses had sustained back injuries, with a significant number of the injuries being career-ending. Surgical technologists and/or assistants accounted for 21% of these injuries.

As the study identified, there are five key activities that contributed to these injuries:

  1. Moving patients
  2. Maneuvering heavy carts
  3. Lifting
  4. Walking on wet floors
  5. Reaching for power outlets

To maintain a functional and effective healthcare system it is crucial that we integrate ergonomic principles into everyday healthcare practices. As we continue to rely on the tireless efforts of HCWs, especially in times of crisis, it is imperative that we invest in their safety and health with the same fervor with which they care for us.

Healthcare Ergonomics Best Practices and Resources

Nursing Home Ergonomics

Many patients in nursing homes are reliant on healthcare providers for basic day-to-day activities. These types of activities put physical strain on healthcare workers – multiple times a day, as they require lifting and transferring patients safely. 

To help avoid healthcare worker injuries, employers should ensure: 

  • Workplace analysis to identify and correct workplace hazards and exposure to ergonomic stressors. 
  • Injury recording and analysis to identify injury patterns, allowing visibility to correct unforeseen risks. 
  • Hazard prevention and control including administrative and engineering controls. Administrative controls ensure adequate staffing and assessment of needs. Engineering controls cover design, training and use of tools and equipment to reduce injuries to healthcare providers, e.g. equipment used to lift patients. 
  • Training programs to ensure continual education is in place and performed by a qualified trainer. Successful training programs confirm that both new and existing employees are up-to-date on ergonomic risks in the workplace. 

Lifting guidelines are particularly relevant for healthcare workers in a nursing home environment. The United States Department of Labor – Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides the following lifting guidelines: 

  • Never transfer patients/residents when off balance. 
  • Lift loads close to the body. 
  • Never lift alone, particularly fallen patients/residents, use team lifts or use mechanical assistance. 
  • Limit the number of allowed lifts per worker per day. 
  • Avoid heavy lifting especially with spine rotated. 
  • Training in when and how to use mechanical assistance. 

OSHA also offers recommendations around Patient Handling Programs and Patient Handling Controls.

Laboratory Ergonomics

Laboratories lend themselves towards ergonomic risks due to their focus on efficiency which can distract from safe working practices. There are many resources created by UCLA Ergonomics that offer best practices for healthcare ergonomics in a laboratory setting: 

Recommendations for Pushing and Pulling Tasks

Most healthcare environments possess many large, heavy equipment. This medical equipment must be mobile, so it can be moved where needed across the healthcare facility. Additionally, medical equipment must frequently be maneuvered quickly and safely in a variety of environments (wet, hazardous materials, over cords, etc.). Finally, noise considerations must be considered as patients require rest and cannot be bombarded by noisy equipment constantly being moved around. That’s a tall order for medical equipment designers. 

The AORN Safe Patient Handling Guide provides several task recommendations to mitigate risk for pushing/pulling tasks:

  • Opt for pushing over pulling equipment 
  • Push at a comfortable “middle” height – about 3ft 
  • Use 2 or more caregivers to complete task together 
  • Use powered transport device 
  • Keep casters/wheels clean and well-maintained to assist in moving equipment more easily  

Additionally, Darcor has identified four best practices to assist medical equipment designers to achieve improved design and mobility of medical equipment and carts:

  1. Low push/pull force
  2. Noise reduction
  3. Reduced shock and impact loading
  4. Adjustable height

Investing in healthcare ergonomics is essential as it not only helps mitigate risks for healthcare workers but also greatly improves patient care. To ensure a healthier tomorrow, we must continue to centre ergonomic programs and practices within the healthcare sector and beyond. To learn more about how ergonomics can help you reduce workplace injuries and transform your bottom line check out our latest guide: “The Economics of Ergonomics”!

The Anatomy of a Caster

Written by Madeline Shoot

Caster Technology

The ins and outs of caster technology are not common knowledge, especially for ergonomists and safety professionals alike who have emerged from a scientific background. All the different components can make casters intimidating, but if we take a step back and relate the anatomy of a caster to that of a human, we can start to sort out the intricacy of casters. To help identify these parallels, we will focus on some of the main bodily systems. Those include the skeletal, muscular, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. We will draw comparisons between our anatomy, and that of a caster, to help us understand the role of each system and how they work together to have a smooth-running system.  

The Skeletal System: The Bones of a Caster

Closely mirroring the human skeletal system, the ‘bones’ of a caster, comprising the top plate or stem, yoke, axle, and wheel core, provide a robust framework made of hard materials like nylon or steel. The top plate or stem of a caster is analogous to the fixed joints in our skulls. These parts, connecting the caster to the cart, are designed to move in unison, offering a stable, unyielding attachment point, much like a fixed joint. Their robustness is crucial, akin to how our joints need to be stable and strong to prevent dislocations. In the same vein, the yoke of the caster serves a purpose similar to our bones under pressure. It acts as the core structure, bearing loads without breaking or fracturing, and providing a framework to which other components are attached. This mirrors the role of our bones in supporting weight and maintaining structural integrity. Finally, the wheel core, crafted from hard materials like nylon or steel, supports and structures the wheel, paralleling the bones in our limbs that provide support and framework for muscles. This comparison highlights the integral role each component plays in the caster’s overall functionality and resilience.  

Muscular System: Wheels 

In the world of casters, the wheels and treads represent the ‘muscular system’. Just as muscles in the human body enable movement and provide the strength to carry loads, wheels in casters are designed for mobility and bearing weight. The material of the wheel, like the type of muscle fiber, determines its suitability for tasks. For instance, softer tread materials, akin to slow-twitch muscle fibers, are better for endurance and smooth operation on uneven surfaces. Let’s think about this pairing like going for a trail run. Your slow-twitch muscle fibers don’t tire quickly, making them perfect for such prolonged exertion. Similarly, softer tread wheels are designed for endurance on uneven and changing surfaces. They absorb shocks and adapt to irregularities, much like how your slow-twitch fibers help you maintain a steady pace over rocky and uneven trails, ensuring a smoother and more consistent run.  

In contrast, hard wheel materials in casters are comparable to fast-twitch muscle fibers in the human body, which are essential for power and strength. Imagine a weightlifter performing a heavy lift, such as a deadlift. Fast-twitch fibers are activated to generate a powerful and explosive force. These muscle fibers are designed for high-intensity efforts, providing the strength needed to lift heavy weights. Similarly, hard wheel materials on casters are tailored for situations that demand robust strength and durability. They are particularly effective for supporting heavy loads, maintaining stability, and resisting wear under significant pressure. Just like the weightlifter relies on fast-twitch fibers to power through a challenging lift, hard wheel materials ensure that the caster can withstand the immediate demands of heavy-duty use, efficiently managing the stress of substantial weight without compromising performance.  

The Nervous System: Bearings and Swivels 

The nervous system of a caster comprises features that translate external information into responsive action. Bearings, for instance, facilitate the smooth rotation of the wheel and swivel action. Much like the human nervous system sending signals to coordinate muscle movement, bearings enable precise control and ease of movement. They allow the caster to respond to directional changes quickly and accurately, mirroring how nerves transmit information to the brain. The swivel head, allowing a 360-degree rotation, responds to directional changes comparable to the nervous system’s processing of sensory input. Locking mechanisms, too, play a role similar to the nervous system’s control of movement, where it can initiate, inhibit, or modulate motion based on feedback. Lastly, features like spring loading or shock absorption in a caster can be likened to the reflexes controlled by the nervous system, showcasing adaptability and response to external stimuli. 

The Circulatory System: Lubrication & Maintenance  

The circulatory system of a caster is found in its lubrication and maintenance routines. Just as the human circulatory system is essential for delivering nutrients and removing waste to keep our bodies functioning smoothly, regular lubrication and maintenance are crucial for the health of a caster. Lubrication reduces friction in the moving parts, akin to how our blood reduces friction in our joints, ensuring smooth operation and extending the lifespan of the caster. Maintenance, much like regular health check-ups, involves inspecting the caster for wear and tear, ensuring that all parts are functioning correctly, and making adjustments or replacements as necessary. This routine care is vital to prevent breakdowns, just as a well-maintained circulatory system helps prevent health issues in the human body. 

Caster technology exemplifies the synergy of well-aligned components. Each element, from the sturdy structure to the adaptable wheels and precise control mechanisms, plays a critical role. When these parts function in unison, the caster operates at its peak, showcasing a balance of stability, mobility, and responsiveness. This balanced integration underlines the caster’s efficiency, akin to a well-oiled machine, where every component’s alignment ensures superior performance.

Sustainable Ergonomics: A New Path to Environmental and Human Well-Being 

Written by Madeline Shoot

Ergonomics and sustainability may seem like two distinct concepts at first glance. Nonetheless, as the world shifts its focus towards environmental consciousness and sustainable practices, the bond between these two fields becomes increasingly evident. Let’s explore the pivotal role of ergonomics in championing sustainable practices. 

A Journey Through Time: Understanding Sustainability 

The concept of sustainability has evolved over the years. Originally synonymous with reducing consumption, the term has broadened its meaning to encompass environmental concerns, among others. According to Roger Haslam & Patrick Waterson (2013), sustainability today is deeply tied to wide-ranging international actions aiming to: 

  • Reduce consumption and production 
  • Improve built environments and resource utilization 
  • Advocate sustainable land use and agriculture 
  • Enhance transportation, energy generation, and supply systems 
  • Promote waste management and recycling 

This evolution isn’t isolated from human behavior. In fact, there’s a tangible synergy between ergonomics and these sustainability goals. Such an alliance ensures not just environmental sustainability, but also the sustainability of products, human resources, and business ethics. Successful businesses of today have realized that adopting sustainable practices isn’t just ethically right but also economically beneficial in the long run. 

Designing for Tomorrow: The Daciano Perspective 

Moreira Da Silva’s study in 2015 introduced us to Daciano, a celebrated Portuguese designer who firmly believed in shared responsibility toward achieving sustainable products. His designs were a testament to: 

  • A balance between social, environmental, and economic facets 
  • Emphasis on durable materials and local technologies 
  • Harmonizing the designer’s vision with the needs of the producer, workers, and local resources 

Daciano’s office furniture system exemplifies this approach (Moreira Da Silva., 2015). By incorporating long-lasting materials and reusing industrial production techniques, he paved the way for more sustainable designs that resonate with both cultural and economic contexts. 

Building a Sustainable Future: Ergonomics Throughout a Building’s Life Cycle 

A building, whether commercial or residential, has a significant environmental footprint. However, integrating ergonomics can redefine this impact as highlighted in “The Importance of ergonomics to sustainability throughout a building’s life cycle” by Linda Miller, Julie Dorsey, and Karen Jacobs (2012). It ensures that the building not only meets the environmental, social, and economic demands of today but is also prepared for the needs of future generations. 

Sustainable design has gained traction due to its evident returns on investment, increased occupant satisfaction, and rising public interest in environmental protection (Miller, Dorsey, and Jacobs., 2012). By considering human factors throughout a building’s lifecycle, from design and construction to operation and decommissioning, ergonomics promotes both individual well-being and system-wide sustainability. Through integrating ergonomics in the design process, practitioners have a platform to advocate for workplace safety, proactively, thus integrating ergonomic principles into the design process. This saves the future worker from workplace hazards as they were designed out before the building was opened for use.  

For a holistic approach to sustainable design, Miller and colleagues (2012), noted that it’s paramount to factor in the human element throughout every phase, from design and construction to operation and eventual decommissioning of a building. Integrating ergonomic principles not only enhances human performance, productivity, and well-being but also catalyzes sustainability at both individual and systemic levels. 

Ergonomists have several roles in this setting: 

  1. Optimized Spaces for Health and Performance: Ergonomists can ensure that workspaces are tailored to foster health, wellness, and optimal performance. Such an approach minimizes resource wastage, aligning with sustainability principles. 
  1. Behavioral Change Advocacy: Ergonomists’ insights can drive designs that naturally encourage sustainable practices among occupants. 
  1. Leadership in Sustainable Certification: It’s essential for ergonomists to familiarize themselves with certifications like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. By understanding and advocating for such certifications, ergonomists can drive sustainable building practices. 

Promoting Sustainable Designs: The Ergonomist’s Role Today 

Sustainable design begins at the manufacturing of the product, as depicted in Daciano’s office furniture system (Moreira Da Silva., 2015), and extends into the creation of new structures (Miller, Dorsey, and Jacobs., 2012), but it does not stop there. As ergonomists, providing lasting products to end users contributes to the sustainability initiative. This entails doing our due diligence in recommending products that can withstand the application while providing lasting ergonomic benefits. Not only does this practice reduce consumption but entails a stronger return on investments as repurchasing is not an elevated concern. This is advantageous to ergonomists as lasting products will provide assurance that risk is averted for an extended period. Coupled with manufacturers’ commitment to making high-quality, durable, and lasting products, this will greatly benefit sustainability initiatives.  

Ergonomics as a Sustainable Champion

To truly harness the potential of ergonomics in sustainability, it’s crucial for ergonomists to comprehend certifications like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and incorporate them into their practices. By championing a proactive, sustainable approach, ergonomists can lead the way in reducing overconsumption and promoting waste reduction. 

In this journey towards a sustainable future, ergonomics and sustainability aren’t just allies; they are two sides of the same coin. Together, they hold the promise of a world where environmental well-being harmonizes with human prosperity. 

Browse by Caster Series

Product Quick Search

Catalogues & Brochures

This booklet provides a more expanded, illustrated view of Darcor’s world-leading automotive casters. Provides evidence of how superior design and manufacturing helps leading auto companies cut worker injuries and keep production lines running. Download Now

This folder profiles the KP Series, the extra-rugged new Darcor ‘kingpinless’ swivel caster with an engineered offset for easier swiveling and to prevent chatter at high speeds. The Darcor KP Series takes the heaviest loads in automotive and other industrial applications. Download Now

This folder offers both an overview and specifications of Darcor’s leading edge medical casters which deliver the ultimate in safety, dependability, ease of motion, shock dampening, and maneuverability for a wide range of specialized applications. Download Now