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Ergonomic Tools: More Comfort and Fewer Workplace Injuries

Work Safety - a graphic of safety-related words in warm tones reflecting different aspects of workplace safety. Ergonomic tools are omitted.
A safety manager has a lot to think about to keep their workers safe. Why aren’t ergonomic tools listed here?

Safety Managers often overlook the importance of ergonomic tools in keeping their workers safe and managing their safety budget. This can be a costly mistake, especially if you use a lot of hand tools in your organization.

Each hand tool without an ergonomic handle is an injury waiting to happen. Ergonomic injuries rarely happen suddenly. They occur with repetitive use of the tool. Trying to save money today by purchasing non-ergonomic tools is very likely to cost your company in the long term, as repetitive strain injury claims mount. An ergonomic handle will reduce the likelihood of such injuries.

Slice® considers repetitive strain a safety issue and thus prioritizes the ergonomic design of hand tools. We produce a line of tools with ergonomic handles, proprietary finger-friendly® cutting edges, and blade retraction mechanisms that give your workers more comfort and control. That also means a lowered risk of injury.

What Are Ergonomic Tools?

Let’s go back to the concept of ergonomics: it has to do with design, whether it’s office furniture, keyboards, or industrial tools. Ergonomic design looks at the human body and how it interacts with the environment. Ergonomic designs allow the human body to work more productively and efficiently while reducing fatigue, discomfort, and risk of injury.

The same principles apply to ergonomic hand tools. Simply put, ergonomic tools are tools designed to let the user engage in repetitive motions comfortably and without undue risk of injury. These ergonomic hand tools might have padded or specially formed handles, modified striking heads or plates, or non-slip coatings on their handles to ensure the worker can keep a firm grip on the tool. Slice makes a full line of utility knives and box cutters that were designed with ergonomics in mind.

The most important factor in determining whether or not a tool is ergonomic is the person using that tool. No two people are alike in their hand shape, grip strength, underlying muscle, bone, tendon, and ligament structure. That’s why it’s helpful to offer workers a range of tools to accomplish a given task. Let them choose the best fit for themselves, as long as all the options you provide are ergonomic.

Slice Industrial Ergonomic Hand Tools

Slice clearly sees the link between ergonomics and safety. If a tool doesn’t feel comfortable in a worker’s hand, they won’t use that tool, at least not as it was intended to be used. They may make unsafe modifications, or substitute a tool that they prefer, even if it isn’t the right tool for the job. Ergonomic handles for hand tools foster worker compliance with safety rules.

Ergonomic Cutter

The unusually-shaped handle on this box cutter may not seem ergonomic at first glance, but once you try it, you’ll know why workers are switching to this award-winning J-Hook design. Our popular box cutter is available in both manual and auto-retractable versions. Watch this video to see how to properly use this innovative ergonomic design to make quick work of box-cutting tasks.

How to properly hold the ergonomic handle and cut with the Slice J-Hook Box Cutter.

Smart-Retracting Utility Knife

One of the major safety issues in using utility knives is blade exposure. We offer different types of retractable knives that allow the worker or safety manager to balance safety with effective tool performance. From our manual utility knives, that allow the blade to be fixed at a particular cutting depth, to our auto-retractable utility knife, that immediately retracts the blade into the handle when the slider is released. Coupled with our finger-friendly safety blades, Slice utility knives are designed with safety in mind.

Above and beyond safety issues, Slice has addressed the ergonomics of utility knives. To engage the blade on a traditional utility knife, the user has to push a sliding mechanism with their thumb. This extends the thumb far forward onto the handle, applying pressure at the front of the knife.

At the same time, by holding the handle with their fingers and the heel of their hand, the worker applies pressure in the opposite direction at the back of the knife. This presents an injury risk from tool slippage due to a weaker grip.

Even worse, it’s also an ergonomic nightmare, as these two opposing forces—caused by the thumb position—result in the wrist rotating inwards, straining both the thumb and the wrist. Ouch! A worker who uses a traditional utility knife over a period of time is likely to suffer an RSI and may file an injury claim, missing work and costing your company a lot of money.

Slice’s Smart-Retracting Utility Knife with Ergo-Pull™ solves this problem. Ergo-Pull™ engages the blade by pulling the retraction mechanism backwards with the thumb, thereby eliminating the forward positioning of the thumb in relation to the handle and the inward rotation of the wrist. Not only does this eliminate the risk of a strain injury, it also gives the worker a more secure, safer, grip on this ergonomic cutter.

Using Slice’s 10558 Smart-Retracting Utility Knife
Note the natural grip—a comfortable hand and wrist position—while using Slice’s 10558 Smart-Retracting Utility Knife.

While this latest innovation in an auto-retracting utility knife may not be best suited for every industrial application, its undeniable improvement in the reduction of repetitive strain injuries in the workplace make it worthy of consideration when buying tools.

Auto-Retractable Utility Scraper

Whether you are scraping rust, paint or adhesives, Slice’s 10593 Auto-Retractable Utility Scraper, with SureScrape™ technology, is the only utility scraper on the market that is ergonomically designed to eliminate the kickback force that occurs during scraping.

This kickback force, from the contact between the scraper blade and the material you’re scraping, is what makes your thumb hurt if you are scraping for very long. The SureScrape™ mechanism in the Slice 10593’s handle prevents this force from ever reaching your thumb, reducing the likelihood of a strain injury.

In addition to SureScrape™, the 10593 has soft-touch comfort grips on both sides of its handle to ensure safety and comfort. This is a heavy-duty scraper, so be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area, especially if you are working on a glass surface, to determine the right pressure and angle to use so that it won’t scratch. Like all of our tools with replaceable blades, our scraper blades are available in standard rounded-tip (10526) or pointed-tip (10528) versions.

Ergonomic Hand Tools: What the Research Proves

The ergonomic design of hand tools can be a real game-changer when it comes to preventing repetitive strain injuries and helping to control safety costs in your organization. Here are some of the ways that ergonomics make a difference:

  • encouraging correct wrist alignment
  • allowing healthy thumb positioning
  • providing optimum grasping force
  • reducing muscle effort

Slice actually put their tools to the test with some pretty impressive results. In 2016, Slice hired United States Ergonomics to compare the 10400 Manual Box Cutter and the 10558 Utility Knife to similar traditional cutters and knives.

Ergo-Pull™ was proven to reduce muscle effort in both upper arm and forearm muscles when executing both horizontal and upright cutting motions. The J-Hook handle lowered forearm muscle effort by over 13 percent.

Ergonomic Tools and Equipment

Now that you have an overview of the benefits of using ergonomic hand tools, what are your next steps? First, take a good look at the types of cutting tools your organization uses on a daily basis. Then match your needs to the ergonomic work tools offered by Slice. Let Slice ergonomic tools make your workplace safer and more cost-effective.

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