Choosing Hand Tools


You may not give much thought to the handles on your hand tools, but you should. They are the only physical connection between you and your tools. In a normal workday, you may work with these tools for six or more hours. Using the right size handle can reduce fatigue and increase productivity, improve the quality of your work, and reduce the risk for hand and wrist problems.

Awkward wrist positions can lead to repetitive strain injuries and reduce your grip strength. One study found that working with the wrist bent reduced workers' grip strength (the strength of your hand) by 27%[1]. Handles and handle areas that allow you to work with your hand and wrist in a comfortable position with your wrist straight and/or that limit the time you work with your wrist bent or twisted are best.

Tools that say they are "ergonomic" or "ergonomically designed" may have some very good features, but just having that label doesn't mean the tool is safer for YOU. A tool is only "ergonomic" if it fits YOUR hand and is right for the work you are performing. The following sections provide detailed information on what you should consider when selecting hand tools.

[1] Purswell, J.L., Terrell, R., "The Influence of Forearm and Wrist Orientation on Static Grip Strength as a Design Criterion for Hand Tools;" Proceedings of the Sixth Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, 1976.