Maintenance Hole Cover Lifters

The Problem

  • Maintenance workers are exposed to extremely high forces when handling maintenance hole covers. To remove the hole cover or frame, a pry bar is used and then the cover or frame is dragged/rolled.
  • The hole covers and frames each weigh over 40 kgs.
  • Workers may be at risk of back pain and shoulder pain. The injuries can be the result of a one-time overexertion, but generally develop over a long period of time.
  • Lifting heavy loads in stooped postures, often requiring workers to pick up the hole’s cover or frame, increasing the risk of injury even further.

Three Solutions

Use a maintenance hole cover lifter, which is a cover lifter wheeled-leverage device designed to assist in the removal and replacement of maintenance hole and catch basin covers.

How It Works

  • One tool lifts the cover or frame by pushing down on a long handle which reduces the required force.
  • Alternative lifters include:
    • A dolly designed with hooks and levers
    • A dolly designed with a magnet
    • Hydraulic hole cover lifters
    • Truck mounted magnetic hole cover lifters
  • Magnetic devices are available that require no power or recharging. To use these devices, the magnet is positioned onto the center of the steel surface and is turned on using a manually-controlled handle. The magnet is switched off by pressing a safety lock and moving the handle in the opposite direction.
  • For the manually powered dollies, pressing down on the handles, lifts the cover.
  • Mechanically powered lifters raise the cover or frame using hydraulics or other means.
  • The cover can then be swung to one side and pushed to the desired location.


  • Hole cover lifters reduce the risk of injury.
  • The worker stands away from the cover so the risk of getting the hand or foot pinched is avoided.
  • Hole cover lifters eliminate direct manual lifting of the covers from the hole and the ground.
  • The hole cover lifter eliminates the dragging or rolling of the covers or frames.
  • The hole cover lifter is efficient and takes minimal time to operate.

Further Information

  • Products may also be found on the internet using the following search terms: “hole cover lifter.”
  • Local contractor tool and equipment suppliers or rental companies may be another source of information on products.
  • Visit the IHSA website 

References or resources

The information was used as part of a project “Kramer, D., Bigelow, P., Vi, P., Garritano, E., Wells, R. Encouraging construction companies to adopt innovations to reduce MSDs using different knowledge transfer techniques. 2008-2011. Workplace Safety and insurance Board (Ontario)”. In partnership with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association of Ontario and CRE-MSD.

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Case Study (2 page PDF)