Hand Tool Ergonomics - Introduction

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Are hand tools ergonomically designed?

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Not necessarily.  To be called “ergonomic”, a tool should reduce the physical effort required of the person using it. Tools should be designed to consider the following factors and be chosen accordingly:

  • Operator characteristics
    • Physical characteristics and limitations (anthropometry)
    • Biomechanics - structure, strength and mobility
    • Fatigue
    • Manual dexterity
  • Factors related to the workstation and the tasks
  • Work Requirements - Tools must help meet production goals, requirements for accuracy, etc. 

The mass production of hand tools has also changed our approach to the use of hand tools. The use of tools on an industrial scale made it apparent that using a tool which does not fit the person or task can seriously affect a user's health (see Hand Tool Ergonomics - Health Hazards).

Choosing the proper tool for the job and fitting it to the individual has become very important for productivity and worker health. 

The ergonomic assessment of work where hand tools are used has helped people to understand that the layout of the workstation (see Hand Tool Ergonomics - Workspace Design), the variety and scheduling of tasks (see Hand Tool Ergonomics - Job Design) and the way tools are used, are all factors as important as tool design itself (see Hand Tool Ergonomics - Tool Design).

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2023-11-03