Guide To Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools Provides Resource for Avoiding Musculoskeletal Injuries

November 3, 2004
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749

A new publication by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service provides easy-to-use guidance for evaluating and selecting non-powered hand tools to reduce risks of job-related disorders from repetitive movements.

“Easy Ergonomics: A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools,” includes user-friendly, illustrated discussions of factors to assess in choosing tools, and a checklist for comparing tools and making a selection.

The document is designed to help employers and employees evaluate different non-powered hand tools to identify those that can be used effectively with less force, less repeated movement, and less awkward positioning of the body for a given task. By selecting a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, or other type of hand tool that meets such design and performance criteria, the risk of musculoskeletal injury can be reduced.

“A wise investment in the right tool can repay itself many times over through savings in medical costs, lost work time, and lost productivity, but selecting the right tool can be complicated and time-consuming without assistance, especially for small businesses that lack specialized in-house resources,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We are pleased to partner with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration to fill the need for such assistance in the concise, non-technical, easy-to-follow format that this new guide provides.”

To the untrained eye, it may be difficult to evaluate tools from an ergonomic perspective, the new document notes. The guide offers simple tips for making such evaluations, following a step by step approach:

  • Know the job.
  • Look at the work space.
  • Improve working posture.
  • Select the tool.

“Easy Ergonomics: A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools,” DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-164, is available on the NIOSH web page at or by calling the NIOSH toll free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674). For additional NIOSH findings and recommendations for preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders, visit the NIOSH web page at

Page last reviewed: July 22, 2015