Article
Bending conduit is a regular task for many electrical contractors, and 
hand-operated manual conduit benders are often the tool of choice for 
this chore. The tools are portable, don’t require an electrical 
connection and the latest products often incorporate features that 
improve both ease of use and bend-angle accuracy. However, given the 
mechanical force required to operate a manual bender, contractors need 
to take care in how they use the devices to protect against possible 
injuries.

Lean into Safety When Bending Conduit by Hand

Chuck Ross
Bending conduit is a regular task for many electrical contractors, and hand-operated manual conduit benders are often the tool of choice for this chore. The tools are portable, don’t require an electrical connection and the latest products often incorporate features that improve both ease of use and bend-angle accuracy. However, given the mechanical force required to operate a manual bender, contractors need to take care in how they use the devices to protect against possible injuries.

What we’re talking about here is ergonomics – the way workers interact with their tools and work environment. Manual conduit bending can present a particular ergonomic challenge. The combination of the significant physical force an operator has to apply to a bender and the awkward postures that can be a part of this process can result in overexertion and injuries to the back and shoulders.

Using lightweight, flexible conduit is one obvious option for avoiding conduit bending, altogether. But, depending on local electrical codes, conduit may be the only choice. To help minimize risks where conduit is required, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed some jobsite recommendations:

  • Use a mechanical bender for larger-diameter conduit, especially if the diameter is greater than 1-1/2 in. These tools require less manual force than hand benders, but they’re also a lot more expensive and take up more room.
  • If there isn’t room for mechanical equipment onsite, try to prefabricate the bends offsite to minimize onsite bending work.
  • When working with manual benders, use longer handles. This will give you increased leverage, so you’ll need to use less force to get the job done.
  • Be sure to wear gloves when using a manual bender. This will reduce stress on your hands and help prevent cuts.
Photo courtesy of IDEAL Industries
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