Power Tools with Adjustable Handles

Power tools with adjustable handles are designed to reduce stressful forces and postures during tool operation. 

Description:

Power tools with adjustable handles are engineering controls that may reduce the amount of awkward hand and wrist positions.  The handle of the power tools can be locked into different positions, which allows the operator’s wrist to be more neutral during operation.  Adjustable handles are available on several tools including: I driver, clamp saw, circular saw, belt sander, random orbit sander, and sawzall.

 

Several power tools are available with adjustable handles.  The Bosch 12 V Max I-Driver offers 80 inch-lbs of torque, is 3.5 inches long, and weighs 2.2 lbs (Figure 1).  The articulating head locks into 5 different positions within 90°.  There is a 7 + 1 electronic clutch, forward/reverse button, and variable speed trigger to enhance control and usability.

Figure 1. Bosch12V Max I-Drive 

The Porter Cable pivoting handle clamp saw has 12 V of power that is controlled through a variable speed trigger to produce between 0-3,000 strokes per minute.  The saw is 9.5 inches long, 2.25 inches wide and weighs 3.4 lbs with the battery (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Porter Cable Clamp Saw

The Milwaukie Circular Saw with Adjustable Handle weighs 10.6 lbs and features 120 V, 15 amps, and a 7-1/4 inch blade.  The handle can be adjusted to the most comfortable position (Figure 3).  In addition, a power-assisted brake stops the blade quickly and the bevel can be adjusted up to 50°.

Figure 3. The Milwaukie Circular Saw with Adjustable Handle

The Black and Decker Dragster Belt Sander features 7 amps, three position adjustable handle, and a dust collection bag, (Figure 4).

Figure 4.  The Black and Decker Dragster Belt Sander

The Makita Random Orbit Sander weighs 3.5 lbs and features a 3-amp motor with variable speed control, a 5 inch abrasive pad, and built in vacuum for dust collection.  The front handle can be adjusted sideways to the most comfortable position (Figure 5). 

Figure 5. Makita Random Orbit Sander

The Milwaukee Sawzall Recip Saw weighs 10 lbs and is 19 inches long and features a 10 amp motor, a stroke length of 1.25 inches, and a QUIK-LOKTM blade clamp (Figure 6).  The handle can be locked every 45°.

Figure 6. The Milwaukee Sawzall Recip Saw

 

 


Risks Addressed:

Stressful hand and wrist activity can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength.  Power tools with adjustable handles may reduce the amount of awkward hand and wrist positions by providing workers with a handle that can be locked into various positions, keep the hand and wrist neutral.


How Risks are Reduced:

Power tools with adjustable handles may reduce the amount of awkward hand and wrist positions by allowing the handle to be locked into various positions. 

Manufacturers believe that power tools with adjustable handles reduce awkward hand and wrist postures. Bosch states that the 12 V Max I-Driver’s “handle position can be moved for the best ergonomic grip.”  Makita states that the Random Orbit Sander has an “ergonomic rubberized palm grip and handle for improved operator comfort and control.”

Safety and health experts believe that power tools with adjustable handles reduces demand on the worker because it eliminates awkward hand and wrist postures, which may also reduce fatigue.  While no research has been done on power tools with adjustable handles, studies have shown that there is strong evidence for a positive association between extreme hand and wrist postures and hand and wrist tendinitis (Bernard, 1997).  In addition, holding awkward hand and wrist postures for an extended amount of time may lead to fatigue which can cause MSDs (da Costa, 2010).


Effects on Productivity:

Power tools with adjustable handles may improve productivity on the worksite.


Additional Considerations:

Use of sawing and sanding tools generates wood dust which can cause irritations or allergic reaction following contact with the skin, respiratory tract, or eyes.  Exposure to some wood dusts has also been linked to respiratory ailments such as occupational asthma and shown to be associated with nasal cancer.  Utilizing downdraft tables, circular saws with dust control, wood sanders with dust control, or other forms of dust collection can reduce harmful exposure to wood dust. 

Additionally, use caution to avoid the tripping hazard of corded tools.

As is the case with any construction equipment, users should follow manufacturer scheduled maintenance safety recommendations and comply with any applicable local, state or federal regulations.


Contributors:

Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; Jesse Brouwer, and Kevin Wright, SPT – Eastern Washington University

 

 


Hazards Addressed:

Availability

Porter Cable 12V Max Compact Lithium Clamp Saw
To obtain information, visit http://www.portercable.com or contact 1-888-848-5175

Milwaukee 7-1/4" Circular Saw with QUIK-LOK Cord
To obtain information, visit http://www.milwaukeetool.com or contact 1-800-729-3878

Milwaukee 360° Rotating Handle Orbit Super Sawzall Recip Saw
To obtain information, visit http://www.milwaukeetool.com or contact 1-800-729-3878

Bosch 12V Max I-Drive
To obtain information, visit http://www.boschtools.com or contact 1-877-267-2499

Black and Decker Dragster Belt Sander
To obtain information, visit Blachttp://www.blackanddecker.com or contact 1-800-544-6986

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.