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Powered Hand Tools - Ergonomics

What are the ergonomic concerns for selecting powered hand tools?

  • Select tools that can be used without bending the wrist. Hand tools should allow the operator to grasp, hold, and use the tool with the wrist held straight.
Hold wrist straight
Hold wrist straight
Hold wrist straight
  • Select the tool with the workplace layout and job design in mind. Sometimes a tool is correct for one operation and incorrect for another.
Bad Design
Good Design
Bad Design
Good Design
  • Use the right tool for the job. Ensure it is the right size and has sufficient power to do the job safely. When there is a choice, select a tool of a low weight.
  • Select low-vibrating tools.
  • Choose tools with vibration-absorbing handles, like those covered with cork, rubber, plastic or plastic bonded to steel, to reduce hand-arm vibration.
  • Choose hand tools that have the centre of gravity within or close to the handle.
  • Select tools with rounded and smooth handles that you can grip easily.
  • If they are available, choose hand tools with double handles to permit easier holding and better manipulation of the tool.
  • Select tools with a trigger strip, rather than a trigger button. This strip will allow you to exert more force over a greater area of the hand that, in turn, will reduce muscle fatigue.
  • Ensure that the trigger works easily to reduce the effort needed to operate it.
Trigger strip

How can you reduce the ergonomic hazards of working with powered hand tools?

  • Ensure that your tool is well maintained and in good repair.
  • Frequently-used tools that weigh more than 0.5 kg (1 pound) should be counter-balanced.
  • Hold the tool close to the body. Do not overreach.
  • Keep good balance and proper footing at all times. This will help operators to control the tool better, especially in response to unexpected situations.
  • Rest your hands by putting the tool down when you are not using it.
  • Reduce power to the lowest setting that can complete the job safely. This action reduces tool vibration at the source.
  • Consider wearing anti-vibration gloves. However, you should not wear thick or heavy gloves if operating the tool requires precise movements. The OSH Answers document Vibration - Measurement, Control and Standards has additional information on anti-vibration gloves.

Document last updated on October 30, 1998
Document confirmed current on 2007 03 21


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