Hand Tools

A tool that is poorly designed, maintained, or inappropriately used can cause Work Related Musculo Skeletal Disorders. Hand tools should fit the employee's hand; employees with small hands or who are left-handed may need tools designed specifically for these situations. A tool that works well in one situation may expose the user to awkward postures, harmful pressures on the hand, or excessive vibration in another. When selecting and purchasing hand tools, follow these guidelines:

1. Select tools that allow the wrist to be held fairly straight and that minimize twisting of the arm and wrist (see Fig. 1). Good working posture can be maintained when tool features and design are well matched with the task requirements.

Fig. 1. A manual screwdriver (left) vs. a powered screwdriver (right).

2. Select tools that allow the operator to use a power grip, not a pinch grip (see Fig. 2). Pinch grips require excessive force, and can lead to a WRMSD.

Fig. 2. Pinch grip vs. power grip.

3. Avoid tools that put excessive pressure on any one area of the hand (i.e., sides of fingers, palm of the hand) (see Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Pliers exerting pressure on the palm.

4. For power or pneumatic tools, select tools with vibration dampening built in whenever possible (see Fig. 4). Provide personal protective equipment such as anti-vibration gloves to reduce exposure.

Fig. 4. Vibration dampening built into pneumatic tool.