Hand Tool Ergonomics: September 2022 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What are the major ergonomic design considerations for hand tools?

Weight of the tool – Ideally, a worker should be able to comfortably operate a tool without experiencing fatigue or discomfort. The tool’s center of gravity should be aligned with the center of the gripping hand. In other words, tools should feel “easy” to hold in the position it will be used. Use a counterbalance to support a tool that is above recommended weight limits or awkward to use.

Handles – With the exception of tools for precision work, the handles and grips of hand tools should be designed for a power grip.

Handle shape – Select tools that allow you to keep the wrist straight or in a neutral position when using it.

Handle diameter – Handle diameter recommendations vary. In general, cylindrical handles at 1.5 inches offer a better power grip, with a range from 1.25 to 2 inches. For precision grips, a diameter of 0.45 inches is recommended, with a range of 0.3 to 0.6 inches.

Handle length – A handle that is too short can cause unnecessary compression in the middle of the palm. It should extend across the entire breadth of the palm. Handles around 5 inches are generally recommended. Keep in mind that the use of gloves requires longer tool handles.

Separation between handles – Tools such as pliers or tongs are equipped with two handles. The recommended distance separating the handles is between 2.5 to 3.5 inches. Tools with larger or smaller spans will reduce one’s maximum grip strength.

Materials and texture of handles – To ensure a good grip on a handle, sufficient friction must exist between the hand and the handle. Hand tools should be made of non-slip, non-conductive and compressible materials.

Always conduct a risk assessment before making any change. If you would like additional resources or to request ergonomic assistance, please contact your local BWC Ergonomist or request their services on-line at Request a consultation | Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (ohio.gov).

Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Keyboard Ergonomics: July 2022 Safety & Hygiene Corner

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Q: Is there a recommended way of typing or using my keyboard to prevent sore wrists?

A: Yes.  Keep your wrists straight and use a soft wrist rest or keep your wrist from leaning or resting on a hard surface.  Avoid bending wrist when using keyboard.   The goal is to keep neutral posture, arms should be parallel, not resting on anything.

Also, consider frequent rest breaks and stretches to prevent aches and pains.

Others tips for avoiding injury include, maintain proper posture, set up your workstation correctly, pay attention to the position of your hands, monitor your technique.

The BWC has ergonomists that can come to your facility or consult with you virtually to help you though issues like these or other workstation set up concerns.  Please contact your safety council liaison to get you connected.

*Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Loading Powered Industrial Trucks: June 2022 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Q: Does OSHA require inspections of the flooring of trucks, trailers, and railroad cars by Powered Industrial Truck Operators prior to loading and unloading operations?

A: Yes. OSHA states in 1910.178(m)(7) “Brakes shall be set, and wheel blocks shall be in place to prevent movement of trucks, trailers, or railroad cars while loading or unloading. Fixed jacks may be necessary to support a semitrailer during loading or unloading when the trailer is not coupled to a tractor. The flooring of trucks, trailers, and railroad cars shall be checked for breaks and weakness before they are driven onto.”

The condition of the trailer’s floor can severely impact the forklift’s ability to maneuver. Check to make sure the trailer has the weight-bearing capacity to hold the combined weight of its load plus the forklift weight. Also, check the trailer walls and ceilings for damage that could compromise the vehicle’s integrity. Lastly examine the cross members of the undercarriage for missing pieces, excessive corrosion, or permanent deformation.

*Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

OSHA Heat Stress Standard: May 2022 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Q: Does OSHA currently have a heat stress standard?

A: Not at this time, but they will use the General Duty Clause to issue citations.

On October 27, 2021, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings in the Federal Register. With this publication, OSHA is beginning the rulemaking process to consider a heat-specific workplace standard. A standard specific to heat-related injury and illness prevention would more clearly set forth employer obligations and the measures necessary to more effectively protect employees from hazardous heat. The ultimate goal is to prevent and reduce the number of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities caused by exposure to hazardous heat.

The publication of the ANPRM initiated a public comment period allowing OSHA to gather information, diverse perspectives and technical expertise on issues that might be considered in developing a heat standard. These issues include the scope of a standard, heat stress thresholds for workers across various industries, heat acclimatization planning, and heat exposure monitoring, as well as the nature, types, and effectiveness of controls that may be required as part of a standard.

The publication of this ANPRM has no impact on OSHA’s current enforcement policies.

*Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

NFPA 70B: April 2022 Safety & Hygiene Corner

What is NFPA 70B?

We’ve all heard of OSHA. Everyone knows who they and you’ve probably heard about NFPA 70E.  But what about NFPA 70B?  OSHA is the WHAT, and NFPA is the HOW.  NFPA 7OE is the comprehensive standard that establishes best electrical safety practices on how to protect workers from electric arc flash and arc blast exposure and resulting potential injury and death.

NFPA 70B is the much-forgotten Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance.  NFPA 70B details preventive maintenance for electrical, electronic, and communication systems and equipment — such as those used in industrial plants, institutional and commercial buildings, and large multi-family residential complexes — to prevent equipment failures and worker injuries.  Proper maintenance is absolutely essential to the safety of your facility and your employees.

If this is all new to you, or you need to brush up on your facility’s electrical maintenance.  The BWC has an upcoming Course:

Date: May 23-25, 2022

Electrical Safety Maintenance (NFPA 70B) – Practices for Electrical

Description: This course provides students an overview into electrical safety audit procedures. Instruction will focus on  analyzing work practices following applicable codes and standards.

*Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.