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KU-EHS August Monthly Safety Tip: Ergonomics and Hand Tools

Monday, August 3, 2015

Many employees rely on hand tools to perform their work. While choosing the correct tool for the job is essential to prevent injuries, so too is using the proper grip when holding a tool.

1. What is a power grip?

  • A power grip is when all of the fingers wrap around the handle or object, such as a hammer or a drill.
  • A power grip uses the muscles of the hand and forearm effectively, resulting in less stress on the fingers.
  • A power grip provides maximum hand power for high-force tasks.

2. What is a pinch grip?

  • A pinch grip is a grip that provides control for precision and accuracy.
  • The object is gripped between the thumb and fingertips.
  • Pinch grips are typically used for short-duration, low-force and precision tasks because they require minimal force exertion but high control (for example tightening eye glass screws).

3. Why is the size of a tool’s handle so important?

  • Regardless of the type of grip used, trying to grasp a tool handle that is too big or too small requires more force.
  • Continual or prolonged exertion of force can lead to tendon inflammation and injury, especially if one’s wrist is bent.
  • Tools that fit the task and the user’s hand require less effort to use, thereby reducing the muscle fatigue that leads to pain and discomfort.

4. What are some general rules to follow to reduce the amount of hand force required to use a hand tool?

  • Use power tools whenever possible.
  • Use power grips rather than pinch grips.
  • Choose tools with appropriate size handles.
  • Keep tools in good condition so they are easier to use.

A Final Word

Over time, the type of grip you use can make a big difference in whether or not you develop pain affecting your hands, fingers, wrists and forearms. Don’t take chances. Choose the correct grip for the tool and the task.

If you have any questions regarding ergonomics, hand tool safety, or other occupational safety issues, please contact Steve Levenson at 785-864-6502 or slevenson@ku.edu

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