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Easy ergonomics: a guide to selecting non-powered hand tools.

Hight R; Schultz K; Hurley-Wagner F; Feletto M; Lowe BD; Kong Y-K; Waters T
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-164, 2004 Aug; :1-14
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. The reasonable and common-sense approaches outlined in this document can be directly applied to challenges like these: 1. deciding whether to stay with traditional tool designs or opt for new designs; 2. evaluating the effectiveness of different designs; and, 3. choosing a tool of the right size and shape for the task and the user. This document also contains an easy-to-use checklist for comparing tools against several design characteristics that have been shown to reduce physical stresses on the user. We hope this checklist and the accompanying background material will be of practical use to all who wish to select tools that get the job done more safely, comfortably, and productively.
Ergonomics; Cumulative-trauma; Cumulative-trauma-disorders; Repetitive-work; Hand-tools; Carpal-tunnel-syndrome; Tools; Injury-prevention; Construction-Search
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Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-164
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Upper Extremities
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: October 26, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division