A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools


December 2004
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-164
Cover of NIOSH document 2004-164

Non-powered hand tools are widely used in a variety of industries including construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. National data suggests that a large number of injuries known as musculoskeletal disorders are attributable to hand tool use in occupational settings, resulting in unnecessary suffering, lost workdays, and economic costs. Prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is a high priority for both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA). Both agencies recognize the importance of design and selection of hand tools in strategies to reduce injuries of this type.

To the untrained eye, however, it may be difficult to evaluate tools from an ergonomic point of view. The purpose of this document is to demystify the process and help employers and workers identify non-powered hand tools that are less likely to cause injury–those that can be used effectively with less force, less repeated movement, and less awkward positioning of the body. Presented here are the ergonomic basics of hand tool use. These principles are meant to complement the ordinary process of deciding on what tool to select by knowing how it is used and the task to which it will be applied.

A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Toolspdf icon [PDF – 1,051 KB]

Page last reviewed: June 6, 2014