Solution Summary: Ergonomic Hand Sanding Blocks
An ergonomic hand sanding block is an engineering control that may help to reduce stressful hand and wrist activities. The sanding blocks provide convenient handles that allow sanding to be performed with a more neutral hand and wrist position. There are different designs of ergonomic hand sanding blocks, and the goal of each is to provide the worker with a handle that is comfortable.
Sanding blocks designed with ergonomic handles or grips make it easier to hold sandpaper securely while performing detail work on a variety of surfaces. Grasping sandpaper without blocks can be difficult and require the worker to exert greater force. Also, grasping sandpaper alone can lead to awkward hand and wrist positions.
Ergonomic hand sand blocks, like the zip sander, come in many shapes and sizes (Figure 1). Sandpaper is attached to the block or handle, and the user is able to comfortably grip to smooth a variety of surfaces.
Figure 1. Zip Sander
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. The ergonomic hand sanding block can help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity by making it possible to sand with a comfortable, neutral wrist position.
How Risks are Reduced:
Ergonomic handles on sanding blocks reduce forceful hand and wrist activities, awkward wrist and joint postures by reducing the amount of grip force required to sand a surface, and making it possible to perform sanding tasks while maintaining neutral, comfortable postures of the wrist, elbow and other joints.
There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of using ergonomic sanding blocks on the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders. Regardless, numerous research studies have been conducted on tool handle diameter and shape. The results of these studies suggest that the optimal diameter of a handle should be in the range of 1.22 inches – 1.96 inches (31 – 50 mm). Diameters at the lower end of the range aide in improving dexterity and diameters at the upper end of the range help to improve torque. Gripping single sheets of sandpaper would require a pinch grip not within the optimal diameter.
Companies such as Gator Tool Company, Carborundum Abrasives, Preppin Weapon, and Festool claim that their ergonomic sanding blocks are able to minimize exposure to forceful exertions and awkward postures compared to other sanding methods.
Health and safety experts believe that ergonomic handles on sanding blocks may help to reduce exposure to forceful gripping postures and allow work without hand fatigue.
Effects on Productivity:
Productivity may be indirectly improved with the use of a sanding blocks with ergonomic handles or grips. This increased productivity may be due to reduced muscle fatigue and the ability to use more powerful gripping positions, and the potential for fewer mistakes and less lost time due to MSDs.
Sandpaper will need to be changed more or less frequently depending on the type of materials that will be sanded.