Things to Look for in Ergonomically Designed Tools

Decrease the Force of Grip Strength Required to Use the Tool:

  1. Use longer or thicker handles to require less force. 
  2. Longer handles use less leverage and thicker handles require less force. 
  3. Properly maintain hand tools – a worn drill bit requires more force to use. 
  4. Cushion grips may provide improved tool comfort, provide slip resistance and reduce grip force. 
  5. You may customize tools using molded finger grips to provide slip resistance. 
  6. Gloves with slip resistant material on the palm and fingers can also be purchased.

Decrease Repetitive Motion Associated With Using the Tool:

  1. A ratchet mechanism or gears can help reduce repetition. 
  2. Adjustable spring-loaded returns can also reduce repetition.
  3. Keep tools properly maintained and use proper operating methods. 
  4. You may want to use a power tool instead. 

Decrease Awkward Body Postures or Wrist Positions When Using the Tool:

  1. Poor wrist positioning can diminish grip strength and can also lead to repetitive strain injuries. 
  2. Use tools (hammers and pliers) designed with a bent or curved handle to maintain a more natural wrist position.

Decrease Vibration Transmitted to the Hand and Wrist:

  1. Vibration is usually associated with power hand tools. 
  2. Power tools designed with anti-vibration materials or anti-vibration mounts/handles may help. 
  3. Gloves with material that dampen vibration may also help. 
  4. You may consider redesigning the process, redistributing the work, or using some kind of external support to handle the power tool.

Tips When Using Hand Tools:

  1. When possible, use power tools that minimize repetitive motion. (eg. Use a screwdriver attachment on your drill rather than a manual screwdriver.)
  2. Wear gloves while using power tools, or choose tools with vibration-dampening grips. Tools with soft-cover grips reduce pressure points, protect hands from heat and cold, reduce vibration, and improve grip. It is important that gloves fit correctly. Gloves that are too large or thick may get caught in machinery or cause you to use excessive force, while gloves that are too small may restrict your circulation.
  3. Use a power grip: grip tools with your entire hand, allowing your thumb and index finger to overlap slightly. Minimize the amount of force used to activate trigger mechanisms.
  4. Vary your tasks; don't repeat the same motion for an extended period of time. Stop and stretch occasionally.
  5. Select tools with properly designed handles to keep your wrist in a neutral position. Tools should fit in the hand for a comfortable grip, about 1 1/2" in diameter. A grip that is too big or too small cause muscles to overwork.
  6. Use tools that distribute pressure evenly across the palm.
  7. Use padded rests for wrist, forearm, elbow and back when there is unavoidable contact with edges and hard surfaces.