Hand Safety Ergonomics

Hand safety means more that wearing PPE. Even jobs that don’t require gloves can be dangerous for hands. Repetitive motion can affect tendons and joints. Ergonomics can help with the design and arrangement of tools to maximize hand safety.

hand_safety_ergonomics-Creative_Safety_Supply_250x250A tool is ergonomic only if it fits your hand, and the job you are doing.

Consider how the tool will be used, how it fits your hand and the grip size. And will you be using a power grip or a pinch grip?

We ask you to also think about what the tool is made of, plus the weight and length of the tool in this podcast.


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Dan Clark: Your hands are tools. Tools that need to last a lifetime, not just till lunchtime.

Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Hand safety isn’t just about gloves. Repetitive motions and ergonomic problems can cause carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis.


That’s a field of science that deals with designing and arranging things so people can use them easily and safely. Let’s look at the ergonomics of hand tools and hand safety.

Remember, a tool is ergonomic only when it fits both your hand and the job you are performing. Consider these things:


  • How will the tool be used? Pick the right tool for the job. Using the wrong tool can strain muscles and cause injury.
  • Does the tool fit your hand?
  • The grip size. Make the okay sign with your hand. The diameter of the circle between your thumb and index finger is your grip size. There’s a new website dedicated to hand safety and it explains how to get your hand measurements. The website is ChooseHandSafety.org
  • The field test. Use a tool for a day and then try adding tape around the handle and see if it fits your hand better. Add or take away more tape as necessary to find out what’s most comfortable.

PICKING A TOOL. There are many things to consider:

  • Weight – Lighter is better.
  • Handle material – Certain materials vibrate more than others and vibration can cause nerve damage. Wood and fiberglass handles are best for striking tools like hammers.
  • Grip size

    • > Power grip vs. pinch grip.
    • A power grip is used when more force is needed, like a hammer. The handle diameter should be between 1 1/4 and 2 inches.
    • A pinch grip is used for precision. The tool is held between the thumb and finger tips. The handle diameter should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.


    • Double handles, like pliers, cutters and tweezers used for pinching.
    • If you’re using a power grip, the handle size should be 3 1/2 inches or less when open, 2 inches or more when closed.
    • If you use a pinch grip, handle size should be 3 inches or less when open, 1 inch or more when closed.
  • Length of handle – Make sure the handle is long enough that it doesn’t dig into your palm.
  • Angle of handle – Choose a tool with a handle that lets you keep your wrist straight.

Those are the things for picking a tool. Other things to consider:

Will you be wearing gloves? If you are, measure the grip size based on your gloved hand.

Can the tool handle be adjusted? If not, try sanding down a wood handle if it’s too big, or adding a tool sleeve if it’s too small.

That’s it for this episode on Hand Safety Ergonomics. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at creativesafetysupply.com


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