Title:
Shoulder protector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shoulder protector for use in protecting the shoulder and neck of a workman includes a pouch for enclosing a cushioning material, the pouch having an elongated arch-shaped portion for fitting over a shoulder, and an integral neck portion for protecting the neck of the workman. A loop patch of a hook and loop fastener is affixed to an undersurface of the elongated arch-shaped portion of the pouch for attaching to a corresponding hook patch of the hook and loop fastener. The hook patch includes a fabric loop formed thereon. A shoulder strap which is positioned underneath the fabric loop fits across the chest of the workman and includes dual terminal ends each fitted with an identical first fastener. Finally, an auxiliary strap is affixed to the pouch and secured underneath an arm of the workman by a second fastener for securing the pouch to the shoulder.



Inventors:
Phillips, Ricardo (Chula Vista, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/317830
Publication Date:
06/28/2007
Filing Date:
12/24/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D27/26
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEWIS, BRISBOIS, BISGAARD & SMITH LLP (LOS ANGELES, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shoulder protector comprising: a pouch for enclosing a cushioning material, said pouch having an elongated arch-shaped portion for fitting over a shoulder and an integral neck portion for protecting the neck of a workman; a loop patch of a hook and loop fastener affixed to an undersurface of said elongated arch-shaped portion for attaching to a corresponding hook patch of said hook and loop fastener, said hook patch including a fabric loop formed thereon; a shoulder strap positioned Underneath said fabric loop for fitting across the chest of said workman, said shoulder strap having dual terminal ends each fitted with an identical first fastener; and an auxiliary strap affixed to said pouch and secured underneath an arm of said workman by a second fastener for securing said pouch to said shoulder.

2. The shoulder protector of claim 1 wherein said pouch is comprised of nylon material.

3. The shoulder protector of claim 1 wherein said cushioning material is comprised of a rubberized foam material.

4. The shoulder protector of claim 1 wherein said shoulder strap is comprised of a webbed belt.

5. The shoulder protector of claim 1 wherein said first fastener comprises a hand-operated mechanical clamp for attaching to the clothing of said workman.

6. The shoulder protector of claim 1 wherein said second fastener is a hook and loop fastener.

7. The shoulder protector of claim 1 wherein said auxiliary strap is comprised of a webbed belt.

8. A shoulder protector for use in protecting a shoulder and neck of a workman comprising: a pouch for enclosing a cushioning material, said pouch having an elongated arch-shaped portion for fitting over a shoulder and an integral neck portion for protecting the neck of a workman; a sealable opening formed in said pouch for removably inserting said cushioning material in said pouch; a shoulder strap positioned underneath a fabric loop affixed to an under surface of said elongated arch-shaped portion, said shoulder strap for fitting across the chest of said workman and having dual terminal ends each fitted with an identical first fastener; and an auxiliary strap affixed to said pouch and secured underneath an arm of said workman by a second fastener for securing said pouch to said shoulder.

9. The shoulder protector of claim 8 wherein said opening formed in said pouch is sealed with a hook and loop fastener.

10. A shoulder protector for use in protecting a shoulder and neck of a workman comprising: a pouch for enclosing a cushioning material, said pouch having an elongated arch-shaped portion for fitting over a shoulder and an integral neck portion for protecting the neck of a workman; a sealable opening formed in said pouch for removably inserting said cushioning material in said pouch; a loop patch of a hook and loop fastener affixed to an undersurface of said elongated arch-shaped portion for attaching to a corresponding hook patch of said hook and loop fastener, said hook patch including a fabric loop formed thereon; a shoulder strap positioned underneath said fabric loop for fitting across the chest of said workman, said shoulder strap having dual terminal ends each fitted with an identical first fastener; and an auxiliary strap affixed to said pouch and secured underneath an arm of said workman by a second fastener for securing said pouch to said shoulder.

Description:

This patent application filed under 35 U.S.C. Sec. 111(a) claims the benefit of the Disclosure Document entitled Shoulder Protector filed on Feb. 17, 2004 and identified by Disclosure Document No. 547034.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates to protective appliances. More specifically, the present invention relates to methods and apparatus for a shoulder protector having a nylon pouch including an integral neck portion, the pouch containing a removable cushioning material, the shoulder protector being affixed to a workman's shoulder via a shoulder strap and an auxiliary strap to protect a workman's shoulder and neck when shouldering heavy loads at a work site.

2. Background Art

Workmen at work sites such as construction sites, warehouses, loading platforms, shipyards, manufacturing plants, feed stores, lumber depots and similar locations including residential sites are often required to lift heavy articles utilizing a shoulder. The heavy articles might include lumber, piping, feed bags, sand bags, cement bags, bags containing foodstuffs, logs, articles being unloaded from transport ships or a residential garage or backyard, or the like. Continuous repetitious lifting of these heavy articles over periods of weeks and months eventually can cause damage in the shoulder and neck of a workman. This damage which often results in chronic and arthritic pain in the shoulder and neck typically results in lost man hours at the work site.

Consequently, many businesses and corporations have adopted safety programs that are consistent with the rules mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the state and federal governments. Certain occupations that require heavy lifting as part of their job description mandate that the employee workmen wear a back support during lifting and moving of articles. However, some heavy articles are most efficiently moved by manpower and are most conveniently moved by carrying the article on the shoulder. This type of situation is easily visualized at a renovation or new construction site where workmen can be seen carrying lumber and piping over their shoulders. Typically, these workmen are not fitted with any safety appliance to protect their shoulders and neck. Over time, the wear and tear on their shoulders and neck result in what has become known as repetitive use injuries.

Over time, workmen have devised ways to protect their shoulders while repetitively carrying heavy loads. One simple method was to place a protective barrier between the heavy load and their shoulder such as, for example, a shoulder pad or even a folded towel or small mat. This method helped reduce the mechanical load on the shoulder and to alleviate some of the pressure applied thereto. Unfortunately, the pad or towel or small mat was difficult to hold in position and had to be constantly adjusted.

An advance in the art was disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,079,055 entitled Protective Shoulder Pad and issued to Mencel on Jun. 27, 2000. Mencel taught a protective shoulder pad adapted to be worn on either the right or left shoulder for supporting a load. The shoulder pad includes a protective pad having a band forming an underarm loop connected adjacent one side thereof and a pair of body straps connected adjacent the opposite side of the protective pad. The free ends of the body straps have complementary fastening means for securing the free ends of the body straps in a ready releasable manner. When worn by a workman, one arm is slipped through the underarm loop with the body straps being diagonally extended along the back and front of the workman so that the free ends are secured in the fastening means at the front of the workman.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,319,806 issued to Hermann et al. on Jun. 14, 1994 discloses a Shoulder Protector Guard Harness which appears to exhibit suspenders with attached shoulder pads to protect each shoulder of a workman from bruises, lacerations, and other injuries caused by carrying heavy construction materials. Each pad is held in place by a vertical suspender strap at its front and back side. The vertical straps attach to the workman's belt or pants with clamps to hold the shoulder protector in place. A horizontal center strap attached to each vertical strap holds each vertical strap in place thereby assisting the secure placement of the shoulder pads on the shoulders of the workman.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,247,188 issued to Beland on Jun. 19, 2001 discloses an Adjustable Shoulder Pad particularly adapted for use by children for playing hockey and other similar sports. The adjustable junior shoulder pad is made of two main portions, namely a left-hand portion and a right-hand portion. The two main portions have front and rear panels interconnected by a shoulder arch and these front and rear panels have respective overlapping surfaces. The overlapping surfaces of the front and rear panels have affixing means which allow interconnection of the right and left portions in accordance with different positions for allowing size adjustment of the Shoulder Pad.

Thus, there is a need in the art for a shoulder protector for use in protecting the shoulders and neck of workmen where the shoulder protector comprises a nylon pouch for housing a removable, rubberized foam cushioning material and an integral neck portion for protecting the shoulders and neck when shouldering heavy loads, and affixed to the workman's shoulder via a shoulder strap and an auxiliary strap, the respective shoulder and auxiliary straps each having suitable mechanical fasteners.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

Briefly, and in general terms, the present invention provides a new and improved shoulder protector for use in protecting the shoulders and neck of workmen, typically when shouldering heavy loads at work sites. Examples of the work sites can include construction sites, warehouses, loading platforms, shipyards, manufacturing plants, feed stores, lumber depots and similar locations including residential sites where the lifting of heavy articles requires the use of a shoulder. Examples of typical articles that are lifted might include lumber, piping, feed bags, sand bags, cement bags, bags containing foodstuffs, logs, articles being unloaded from transport ships, or in the alternative, articles found in a residential garage, backyard, or the like.

The shoulder protector is designed to be fitted over either shoulder and is secured to the workman's person by a main shoulder strap that fits across the body of the workman, and an auxiliary strap that conveniently is secured under the arm of the shoulder upon which the shoulder protector is positioned. The shoulder strap is affixed to, for example, the belt of the workman while the auxiliary strap closes upon itself. By anchoring the shoulder protector in this manner, the workman can hoist a mechanical load such as lumber or piping over his shoulder without incurring any bruising or abrasions to his shoulder or neck. Further, the shoulder protector can be shifted from one shoulder to the opposite shoulder, if desired, to provide the same protective advantage.

In a preferred embodiment, the shoulder protector includes a fabric pouch which is fashioned to include an elongated arch-shaped portion for fitting over either shoulder, and an integral neck portion for preventing a mechanical load such as lumber or piping from straining the neck of the workman. The fabric pouch includes a sealable opening along the integral neck portion for enabling the insertion and removal of a cushioning material into and from the fabric pouch. The cushioning material which can be a rubberized foam material is shaped to be congruent with the shape of the fabric pouch. Consequently, when the cushioning material is resident within the fabric pouch and the fabric pouch is positioned over either shoulder, the respective shoulder and neck are protected.

A loop patch which is one component of a hook and loop fastener is affixed as by sewing to an undersurface of the elongated arch-shaped portion of the fabric pouch. The loop patch is attached to a corresponding hook patch of the same hook and loop fastener so that when the hook patch is mechanically connected to the loop patch, the hook patch is also affixed to the undersurface of the elongated arch-shaped portion. Further, the hook patch includes a fabric loop affixed thereto such as by sewing. The main shoulder strap is typically comprised of webbed belt and is fished through the fabric loop sewn to the bottom of the hook patch. Thus, when the hook patch is separated from the loop patch, the shoulder strap is separated from the fabric pouch. The shoulder strap is a single strap having dual terminal ends each fitted with an identical first fastener which can be a mechanical clamping device that attaches to the belt or clothing of the workman. The auxiliary strap is also a single strap typically comprised of a webbed belt having dual terminal ends each of which is provided with a corresponding hook or loop fastener for enabling the auxiliary strap to close upon itself. The auxiliary strap is attached to the fabric pouch by being passed through the fabric pouch. By utilizing both a shoulder strap and an auxiliary strap, the shoulder protector enjoys two anchor points on the clothing and body of the workman which improves the stability thereof.

The elongated arch-shaped portion and the integral neck portion of the fabric pouch of the shoulder protector can be fashioned from any suitable material, such as nylon, that is capable of withstanding the frictional wear and tear caused by the mechanical loads carried by the workman. The rubberized foam material which forms the cushioning material has memory so that it recovers its shape once the mechanical load is removed from the fabric pouch. The exposed terminal end of the neck portion, which is integrally connected to the elongated arch-shaped portion, is hemispherically-shaped when viewed in elevation.

The present invention is generally directed to a shoulder protector for use in protecting the shoulder and neck of a workman while lifting heavy loads over the shoulder. In its most fundamental embodiment, the shoulder protector includes a pouch for enclosing a cushioning material, the pouch having an elongated arch-shaped portion for fitting over a shoulder and an integral neck portion for protecting the neck of the workman. A loop patch of a hook and loop fastener is affixed to an undersurface of the elongated arch-shaped portion of the pouch for attaching to a corresponding hook patch of the hook and loop fastener. The hook patch includes a fabric loop formed thereon. A shoulder strap which is positioned underneath the fabric loop fits across the chest of the workman and includes dual terminal ends each fitted with an identical first fastener. Finally, an auxiliary strap is affixed to the pouch and secured underneath an arm of the workman by a second fastener for securing the pouch to the shoulder.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate the invention, by way of example.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shoulder protector of the present invention comprising a fabric pouch for housing a removable, rubberized foam cushioning material which includes an integral neck portion for protecting the shoulder and neck when shouldering heavy loads, and affixed to the shoulder via a shoulder strap and an of auxiliary strap.

FIG. 2 is a front elevation of the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 showing the fabric pouch containing the removable cushioning material including the integral neck portion, the shoulder strap and the auxiliary strap.

FIG. 3 is a rear elevation of the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 also showing the fabric pouch containing the removable cushioning material including the integral neck portion, the shoulder strap and the auxiliary strap.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 showing the top side of the fabric pouch containing the removable cushioning material including the integral neck portion.

FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 showing the bottom side of the fabric pouch, a hook and loop fastener having a fabric loop, the shoulder strap and the auxiliary strap.

FIG. 6 is a first end view of the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 showing a hemispherical-shaped terminal end of and an access port formed in the fabric pouch for inserting and withdrawing the removable cushioning material.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the shoulder protector taken along the line 7-7 of FIG. 1 through the fabric pouch including the integral neck portion and showing the removable, rubberized foam cushioning material within.

FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 showing the fabric pouch including the integral neck portion, removable cushioning material, shoulder strap, auxiliary strap, and hook and loop fastener with the fabric loop, each separated in spaced relationship.

FIG. 9 is a second end view of the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 showing an elongated arch-shaped portion of the fabric pouch with the hook and loop fastener affixed thereunder and the integral neck portion appearing in the background.

FIGS. 10A, 10B, 10C are perspective views of a workman wearing the shoulder protector of FIG. 1 of the present invention for protecting their shoulder and neck.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a protective appliance and in particular to a shoulder protector 100 for use in protecting the shoulders and neck of a workman, typically when shouldering heavy loads at work sites. The construction of the shoulder protector 100 as illustrated in FIGS. 1-10C is designed to enable heavy loads such as lumber and piping to be carried over the shoulder of a workman at, for example, a construction site without resulting in any bruising or abrasions to the neck or shoulder.

In a preferred embodiment, the shoulder protector 100 includes a fabric pouch 102 as shown in FIG. 1. The fabric pouch 102 is fashioned to include an integral neck portion 104 and an elongated arch-shaped portion 106 for fitting over either shoulder. The integral neck portion 104 is integrally connected to the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 to complete the basic formation of the fabric pouch 102 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. The elongated arch-shaped portion 106 is reminiscent of a shoulder pad while an exposed terminal end 108 of the integral neck portion 104 is hemispherically shaped when viewed in elevation as shown in FIG. 6. The combination of the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 and the integral neck portion 104 enables a workman to shoulder and carry a mechanical load without bruising his shoulder or straining his neck.

The fabric pouch 102 includes a sealable opening 110 along the integral neck portion 104 as is shown in FIGS. 1, 6 and 8 for enabling the insertion and removal of a cushioning material 112 into and from the fabric pouch 102. The cushioning material 112 which can be a rubberized foam material is fashioned in a single or multiple pieces to be congruent with the shape of the fabric pouch 102. Consequently, when the cushioning material 112, which includes both the integral neck portion 104 and the elongated arch-shaped portion 106, is inserted and resident within the fabric pouch 102, the respective shoulder and neck of the workman are protected. Thus, the cushioning material 112 is a component shaped to fill both the integral neck portion 104 and the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 of the fabric pouch 102 as is shown in the exploded view of FIG. 8. The sealable opening 110 is sealable by utilizing any suitable sealing means such as, for example, hook and loop fasteners 111 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 8. The cushioning material 112 is clearly visible in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 7 and the exploded view of FIG. 8. When the sealable opening 110 is open, a flap 113 is exposed as is shown in FIG. 8.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 8, a hook and loop fastener 114 is shown affixed to the bottom of the elongated arch-shaped portion 106. The hook and loop fastener 114 includes a loop patch 116 and a hook patch 118 as shown in FIG. 8. The loop patch 116, which is one component of the hook and loop fastener 114, is affixed as by sewing to an undersurface 120 of the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 of the fabric pouch 102. The loop patch 116 is attached to the corresponding hook patch 118 of the hook and loop fastener 114 so that when the hook patch 118 is mechanically connected to the loop patch 116, the hook patch 118 is also affixed to the undersurface of the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 as shown in FIG. 5. In addition, the hook patch 118 includes a fabric loop 122 affixed thereto such as by sewing also shown in FIG. 5. The fabric loop 122 can be comprised of, for example, nylon as is the fabric pouch 102. The fabric loop 122 is utilized in affixing the shoulder protector 100 to the shoulder of the workman as described herein below.

The shoulder protector 100 is designed to be fitted over either shoulder and is secured to the workman's person by a main shoulder strap 124 and an auxiliary strap 126 as shown best in FIGS. 10A-10C. The main shoulder strap 124 fits across the body of the workman, and the auxiliary strap 126 is conveniently secured under an arm of the shoulder upon which the shoulder protector 100 is positioned. The main shoulder strap 124 is typically comprised of 2″ wide webbed belt which is sufficiency robust to support the fabric pouch 102 when a mechanical load is carried thereupon. The main shoulder strap 124 is a single strap having dual terminal ends 128 best shown in the exploded view of FIG. 8. One of the dual terminal ends 128 of the main shoulder strap 124 is fished through, i.e., underneath, the fabric loop 122 affixed to the bottom of the hook patch 118 of the hook and loop fastener 114 as shown in FIG. 5. A pair of hook and loop tabs 129 are utilized to secure the main shoulder strap 124 to the hook patch 118 as is clearly shown in FIG. 8. Consequently, when the hook patch 118 is affixed to the loop patch 116, the main shoulder strap 124 is connected to the hook and loop fastener 114, which in turn is connected to the bottom of the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 of the fabric pouch 102. Likewise, when the hook patch 118 is separated from the loop patch 116, the main shoulder strap 124 is separated from the fabric pouch 102. Each of the dual terminal ends 128 of the main shoulder strap 124 is fitted with an identical first fastener 130 which can be, for example, a mechanical clamping device that attaches to a belt 132 or clothing of the workman. The attachment of the first fastener 130 shown as a mechanical clamping device to the workman's belt 132 is best shown in FIGS. 10B and 10C.

The auxiliary strap 126 is also a single strap typically comprised of webbed belt but usually much more narrow. While the main shoulder strap 124 is the main securing strap, the auxiliary strap 126 serves more as a stabilizing strap as shown in FIGS. 10A-10C. The auxiliary strap 126 is conveniently secured underneath the arm of the shoulder upon which the shoulder protector 100 is positioned. Consequently, the auxiliary strap 126 prevents the fabric pouch 102 from moving off of the shoulder of the workman. As a result, the shoulder protector 100 is stabilized. The auxiliary strap 126 also comprises dual terminal ends 134 each of which is provided with a loop patch 136 or a hook patch 138 of a hook and loop fastener 140 for enabling the auxiliary strap 126 to close upon itself as is best shown in FIG. 8. The hook and loop fastener 140 is best shown in FIGS. 1 and 7.

The auxiliary strap 126 is attached to the fabric pouch 102. The fabric pouch 102 includes a pair of penetrations 142, 144 for use as an entry and exit point for the auxiliary strap 126. In other words, one of the dual terminal ends 134 of the auxiliary strap 126 is selected and inserted into a first of the penetrations 142 so that the auxiliary strap 126 can be physically passed through the fabric pouch 102. The selected terminal end 134 of the auxiliary strap 126 is then routed out of a second of the penetrations 144 as is illustrated in FIG. 8. Thereafter, the hook patch 138 is affixed to the loop patch 136 of the hook and loop fastener 140 after the dual terminal ends 134 are positioned underneath the arm of the workman. By utilizing both the main shoulder strap 124 and the auxiliary strap 126, the shoulder protector 100 enjoys two anchor points on the clothing and body of the workman. The shoulder protector 100 is thus stabilized in this manner which enables the workman to hoist a mechanical load such as lumber or piping over his shoulder without incurring any bruising or abrasions to his shoulder or neck. Further, the shoulder protector 100 can be shifted from one shoulder to the opposite shoulder, if desired, to provide the same protective advantage.

The elongated arch-shaped portion 106 and the integral neck portion 104 of the fabric pouch 102 of the shoulder protector 100 can be fashioned from any suitable material such as, for example, nylon, that is capable of withstanding the frictional wear and tear caused by the mechanical loads carried by the workman. The cushioning material 112 which can be a rubberized foam material has memory so that it will recover its shape once the mechanical load is removed from the fabric pouch 102. The exposed terminal end 108 of the neck portion 104, which is integrally connected to the elongated arch-shaped portion 106, is hemispherically-shaped when viewed in elevation. The shoulder protector 100 can be completely disassembled as shown in FIG. 8 since it is assembled via the loop patch 116 and the hook patch 118 of the hook and loop fastener 114, the loop patch 136 and the hook patch 138 of the hook and loop fastener 140, and the sealable opening 110 of the fabric pouch 102.

In summary, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to the shoulder protector 100 having (1) the fabric pouch 102 for enclosing the cushioning material 112 where the pouch 102 has an elongated arch-shaped portion 106 for fitting over a shoulder and the integral neck portion 104 for protecting the neck of the workman, where (2) the loop patch 116 of the hook and loop fastener 114 is affixed to the undersurface of the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 for attaching to the corresponding hook patch 118 of the hook and loop fastener 114, and where the hook patch 118 includes a fabric loop 122 formed thereon. The main shoulder strap 124 is positioned underneath the fabric loop 122 and is fitted across the chest of the workman where the shoulder strap 124 includes dual terminal ends 134 each fitted with the identical first fastener 130, and the auxiliary strap 126 is affixed to the fabric pouch 102 and secured underneath the arm of the workman by the loop patch 136 and hook patch 138 of the hook and loop fastener 140 for securing the fabric pouch 102 to the shoulder of the workman.

The present invention provides novel advantages over other shoulder protectors known in the prior art. A main advantage of the shoulder protector 100 is that (1) it employs a fabric pouch for enclosing a cushioning material 112 comprising a rubberized form material, (2) where the fabric pouch 100 includes an elongated arch-shaped portion 106 for conveniently fitting on the shoulder of the workman and (3) an integral neck portion 104 for protecting the neck of the workman from bruising and strains, where (4) the cushioning material 112 is shaped to conveniently fill both the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 and the integral neck portion 104. Additional advantages include (5) the hook and loop fastener 114 comprising the loop patch 116 and the hook patch 118 where the loop patch 116 is affixed to the undersurface of the elongated arch-shaped portion 106 for convenient removal of (6) the main shoulder strap 124, the terminal ends 134 of each include an identical first fastener 130 such as a mechanical clamp for attaching to the workman's clothing belt 132, and (7) the rapid release auxiliary strap 126 for securing the fabric pouch 102 to the shoulder of the workman.

While the present invention is described herein with reference to illustrative embodiments for particular applications, it should be understood that the invention is not limited thereto. Those having ordinary skill in the art and access to the teachings provided herein will recognize additional modifications, applications and embodiments within the scope thereof and additional fields in which the present invention would be of significant utility.

It is therefore intended by the appended claims to cover any and all such modifications, applications and embodiments within the scope of the present invention.

Accordingly,