(LOS ANGELES) – After wielding a shovel doing odd jobs for his parents a few summers ago, Loyola Marymount University student Stephen Walden, then 22, thought to himself, “it shouldn’t be normal to wake up sore every day after using this tool. Why not come up with a way to make shovels easier to use?” Walden’s efforts to create a more ergonomic garden and construction tool may ultimately help reduce workplace injuries and help American businesses comply with federal and state ergonomic regulations.
Under the Obama Administration, the budget of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has increased every year, and so have the number and the size of fines levied. In 2009, the average fine for a serious violation was $970. Over the next four years, the average serious fine has risen to over $3,000.
“OSHA has stated that it won’t ‘focus its enforcement efforts on employers who are making good faith efforts to reduce ergonomic hazards,’” says Walden. “We believe that by choosing to use ergonomic Bosse Tools shovels on a worksite, an employer may be able to demonstrate that they’re making a good faith effort to comply with the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) and keep their worksite free from ergonomic hazards.”
Walden’s new patent-pending shovel design features a rotating grip in the center of the shaft. The spade model features a U-shaped foot stomp that allows the operator to apply foot pressure through the center of the blade. “Traditional shovels force your shoulders out of alignment, putting strain on your back one direction or the other. When you can actually hold the tool properly, your shoulders stay aligned, and your posture improves,” notes Walden. “Better posture leads to fewer injuries, according to OSHA.”
While earning his graduate degree, an M.B.A. in Finance, Walden, now 24, founded Bosse Tools to manufacture his innovative shovels. “I quickly realized the impact workplace injuries can have on productivity and compliance costs,” says Walden. “Ergonomics is a bottom-line issue. OSHA has developed ergonomic regulations for certain industries, but even if there isn’t a specific set of ergonomic guidelines for your business, OSHA’s ‘General Duty Clause’ still applies to your individual worksites, according to the agency.”
Bosse Tools’ ergonomic shovel innovations have already earned positive feedback from several on-the-ground reviewers. Scott Friedman, CEO of Green Thumb Landscaping & Maintenance in Salem, Oregon notes, “If I can minimize fatigue we can produce more work in the day. We find shoveling bark and soil is the most fatiguing acts in landscaping…Now with traditional handles the leverage is attained by gripping further down on the handle and the operators back is rounded. The ergonomic handle looks like the user may be able to remain more upright and gain the needed leverage at the handle…It looks very exciting.”
“Making it easier for American companies to comply with these federal and state ergonomics regulations may help more businesses to stay in the U.S.,” says Walden, “and that is one of our core values at Bosse Tools.”