Use the right hand tool the right way
Source: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training
Choose a tool that…
- Is designed for the job
- Fits your hand size and is comfortable to hold
- Keeps your wrist straight
- Has a handle that extends beyond your palm – no sharp edges
- Requires a minimum of force to use
- Provides balance – doesn’t tip forward or back when held
- Doesn’t exceed the minimum weight required to do the job
Most construction workers use hand tools. Some use them all day long. Using the wrong hand tool, or the right tool the wrong way, can injure the muscles, tendons, or nerves in your hand, wrist, or arm. These types of injuries develop over time. Early symptoms may include achy, tired hands and wrists that feel better after rest. It is easy to just write these off to a hard day’s work – and in some cases you can end up with an injury that might even force you to quit construction work.
Types of injuries include:
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome: pain, tingling, and numbness in the wrist and hand;
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (white finger): numbness in hands and fingers, a loss of touch and grip, and pain.
Tendonitis: difficulty straightening fingers;
Use the tool safely…
- Keep your wrist as straight as possible.
- If the grip is too small, your gloves may help or add a cushion.
- If the grip is too big, change the handle or adjust the size.
- Gloves and anti-vibration wraps will improve grip strength and reduce vibration.
- Use caps or guards on striking tools to avoid overstrike injuries.
- Focus on keeping your hands safe – not just at the start of a job.
- Try to rest your hands during the day.
- Keep your tools sharp and in good condition.
- Consider doing exercises to strengthen key muscles.
- Don’t raise or extend your elbow when holding a heavy tool.
- Use a power tool when you can.
Using the right hand tool the right way can reduce fatigue and increase productivity, improve the quality of your work, and reduce the risk for hand, wrist, and arm injuries. Find out more about choosing safer hand tools and protecting your hands:
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Hand and Power Tools – www.osha.gov/SLTC/handpowertools/index.html
CPWR Construction Solutions: www.cpwrconstructionsolutions.org
www.ChooseHandSafety.org: A one-stop source for information on selecting and using hand tools