D. SELECT THE TOOL

Over time, exposure to awkward postures or harmful contact pressures can contribute to an injury. You can reduce your risk of injury if you select hand tools that fit your hand and the job you are doing.

Tips for Selecting Hand Tools

Tools used for power require high force. Tools used for precision or accuracy require low force.

  1. For single-handle tools used for power tasks: Select a tool that feels comfortable with a handle diameter in the range of 1 1/4 inches to 2 inches. You can increase the diameter by adding a sleeve to the handle.

  2. Handtools Handtools
    Tool with sleeve
  3. For single-handle tools used for precision tasks: Select a tool with a handle diameter of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.
  4. Handtools
  5. For double-handle tools (plier-like) used for power tasks: Select a tool with a grip span that is at least 2 inches when fully closed and no more than 3 1/2 inches when fully open. When continuous force is required, consider using a clamp, a grip, or locking pliers.
  6. Handtools
    Closed grip span
    Handtools
    Open grip span

  7. For double-handle tools (plier-like) used for precision tasks: Select a tool with a grip span that is not less than 1 inch when fully closed and no more than 3 inches when fully open.
  8. Handtools
    Closed grip span
    Handtools
    Open grip span
  9. For double-handled pinching, gripping, or cutting tools: Select a tool with handles that are spring-loaded to return the handles to the open position.
  10. Handtools Handtools Handtools

  11. Select a tool without sharp edges or finger grooves on the handle.
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  13. Select a tool that is coated with soft material. Adding a sleeve to the tool handle pads the surface but also increases the diameter or the grip span of the handle (see 1, 2, 3, or 4 above).
  14. Handtools Handtools Handtools

  15. Select a tool with an angle that allows you to work with a straight wrist.
    Tools with bent handles are better than those with straight handles when the force is applied horizontally (in the same direction as your straight forearm and wrist).
    Handtools Handtools
    Handtools
    Straight Handle
    Handtools
    Bent Handle

    Tools with straight handles are better than those with bent handles when the force is applied vertically.
    Handtools
    Straight Handle
    Handtools
    Bent Handle

  16. Select a tool that can be used with your dominant hand or with either hand.
  17. Handtools
    Straight Handle
    Handtools
    Bent Handle

  18. For tasks requiring high force: Select a tool with a handle length longer than the widest part of your hand usually 4 inches to 6 inches.

    Prevent contact pressure by making sure the end of the handle does not press on the nerves and blood vessels in the palm of your hand.
  19. HandtoolsHandtools HandtoolsIf the handle is too short, the end will press against the palm of your hand and may cause an injury. Handtools

  20. Select a tool that has a non-slip surface for a better grip. Adding a sleeve to the tool improves the surface texture of the handle. To prevent tool slippage within the sleeve, make sure that the sleeve fits snugly during use.
  21. HandtoolsHandtools
    Remember: A sleeve always increases the diameter or the grip span of the handle (see 1, 2, 3, or 4 above).

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