Monday, April 07, 2008

Ergonomic tools: Science or fiction?

John Hedbor, the marketing manager at L.S. Starrett. posted the following checklist on in March 2008. I thought it was a very good summary of issues related to hand tools

A good tool should reduce the risk of direct injury. It should:
* not have any sharp edges on the handle
* minimize wear and tear on the skin
* reduce the risk of users' hands getting caught in tight spots
* reduce the risk of users' hands coming into contact with sharp edges and shoulders
* be slip-resistant

A good tool should reduce the risk of long-term injury. It should:
* have the optimal weight for its purpose
* have a grip that protects the user from hot/cold temperatures
* minimize the build-up of muscular tension during lengthy jobs
* have a large gripping surface that exerts low, even pressure across the hand
* deliver the greatest power with the least possible effort
* vibrate as little as possible
* be perfectly balanced

A good tool should make the tool user's job easier. It should:
* be the correct size and design for its purpose
* be able to be used in different positions
* not require the user to change grip, if possible
* be adjustable in many different positions
* be adjustable even when wearing gloves
* be designed for use with both hands, if required
* be easy to hold, with the right degree of friction against skin
* be available in different sizes, suitable for different tasks
* tolerate oil and grease

Andy Brazier

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