A riveting concept
To speed production and increase worker safety in the aerospace industry, major manufacturers are willing to pay a higher price for quality equipment. Nowhere is that more applicable than with aircraft riveting, a high-impact assembly process to join aluminum sheets/materials that typically involves two people and exposure to repetitive, hammering force.
The process, which can be hard on workers’ bodies, normally entails one person using a riveting gun and another on the other side of the joined material holding a bucking bar (which serves as a hand-held anvil to form the end of the rivet, or bucktail).
Due to the repetitive impact and vibration conveyed to bucking bars during riveting, aerospace workers who continually install rivets often have health or ergonomic complaints.
On average, 46 percent of workers who use vibrating power tools contract Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), a painful, potentially disabling condition of the fingers, hands and arms, due to vibration.
“People don’t understand that the person on the receiving end [of rivet bucking] is taking highly damaging vibration to the hand,” said Richard Borcicky, a retired tool engineer and manager of ergonomics, who oversaw safety at the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Fleet Readiness Center East base in Cherry Point, N.C.
According to Borcicky, the DoD is continually seeking to improve safety and ergonomics in its facilities. Through implementing industry best practices, Borcicky said that the Fleet Readiness Center East base was able to reduce carpal tunnel syndrome cases from 50 to 0 annually.
However, Borcicky said one of the things that happens to people bucking the rivets is that their hands swell up during the week, and over time this can develop into an incurable, crippling disease of