There are all kinds of tools for all kinds of jobs. However, using the correct tool can mean the difference between a job well done and a job that got done but also generated injuries and pain.
- Long tools are best for when you need leverage, sparing the need for massive physical force.
- Vice grips and clamps can grip/stabilize objects rather than trying to hold objects with your hands.
- Tilt objects to avoid overbending the wrists.
- Use a cart/dolly/arm straps to carry heavy loads.
Take some time to think about how to make the job easier on yourself and look up youtube tutorials to find innovative ways to do these jobs making it less stressful both mentally and physically.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health guidelines hand tool use
- Keep the wrists straight & Avoid bending/rotating the wrists.
Instead bend the tool, not the wrist and there are a variety of bent-handle tools just for this reason. Using the handshake wrist position is a good way to approach a job, as it is a neutral position for the wrist.
- Don’t stand still in one place for an extended time when using a heavy tool.
Instead, reduce the size and weight of the tool which will help avoid strain, keeping the elbows low and slightly bent.
- Tools that place pressure on the base of the palm stress the soft tissues of the hands and fingers interrupting circulation and nerve function.
Instead, opt for one with finger grooves that fit the hand. Short-handles help by reducing stress on the soft tissues.
- Don’t use tools that need a lot of grip force to use or hold.
Instead, use one with a grip that compresses like memory foam and shapes to the hand. This is far better than hard plastic.
- Don’t use tools that need the fingers to grip.
Instead, use tools that utilize a full-hand power grip.
- Do not use tools that have sharp-edged handles or areas where the hands could get pinched.
Instead, use tools that keep the hands/fingers safe.
- Trigger-finger operational tools should be avoided as this can easily cause repetitive finger/hand/wrist injury from the constant on-off motion.
Instead, use tools with large switches that can be operated using all four fingers.
- Excessive temperatures affect manual dexterity, therefore keep hands free from extreme heat and cold.
If possible, do a different job that’s away from the extreme weather and if not wear properly insulated work gloves.
- Keep excessive vibration to a minimum. Excessive vibration can affect circulation.
Use tools with control features that limit vibration to the extremities and whole body.
- Wear gloves that fit. If they are too tight they will place extreme pressure on the hands. Loose-fitting gloves reduce grip strength and the ability to grip properly.
Instead have a selection that is designed for different jobs.
Safely Operating Tools that Cause Whole-Body Vibration
There are power tools that vibrate no matter what and transmit vibration into the operator’s arms and hands, legs, and feet. Using a tool like this can cause a condition called white finger or Raynaud’s Phenomenon to present.
The symptoms include:
- Aching in the wrists and muscles of the forearm
- Tingling sensations
- Whiteness in the fingers from restricted circulation
This type of vibration from riveting tools, grinders, pneumatic hammers, drills, and chain saws will affect the whole body’s well being.
Suggestions to help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders
- Choose power tools with anti-vibration controls and handles coated with suppressant/cushioned material to help with vibration.
- Maintenance power tools by making sure they are balanced, clean, and lubricated.
- Use gloves designed to absorb or reduce vibration.
- Ask for help if the job requires equipment or tools that vibrate.
Whether using a hand or power tool to get a job done, the whole body is involved. Executing proper posture and body mechanics, along with proper tool choice and how it is used is vital to injury prevention.
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Chiropractic care can help keep bodies flexible and help with range of motion. It is a very effective, non-invasive treatment for pain and can help with joint and muscular problems as well. Regular chiropractic treatments can help you better manage your body’s response to your work environment. It can also undo many of the ill effects that that type of work can cause.
Standing for extended or frequent periods of time without any breaks (such as walking or stretching) can cause the joints in the feet, knees, hips, and spine to become locked or immobilized temporarily. If the behavior continues, it can cause degenerative damage, leading to rheumatic diseases because the ligaments and tendons become damaged.