Solution Summary: Upright Aviation Snips
Upright aviation snips are an engineering control designed to minimize awkward and forceful hand exertions while cutting sheet metals. Sheet metal workers and other construction workers use aviation snips to cut sheet metal. In many situations, the construction worker must place their wrist in an awkward posture to reach the area to be cut. Aviation snips with the blades offset from the handle, also called upright snips, may help reduce these awkward and painful postures.
Upright/offset aviation snips help to maintain the wrist in a neutral position which may reduce the hand force necessary to cut sheet metal. Upright aviation snips are those with the blade offset approximately 90° to the handle. They can be used with the blade up or down. They can produce the same amount of grip force with less effort.
Advantages of upright aviation snips include:
- Ergonomic design (90° handle and blade) that helps maintain a neutral position at the wrist
- Makes work in tight over the shoulder areas easier, faster, and less fatiguing
- Easily rotates around circular cutting patterns
- Elevates hand and fingers above the surface of the metal for safer cutting
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 upright aviation snips can help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity by allowing workers to complete tasks with a neutral hand and wrist position.
How Risks are Reduced:
Manufacturers report that upright aviation snips reduce the pressure placed on hands compared to other sheet metal cutting tools. The hand force required to use these aviation snips falls far below the industry standard maximum.
Effects on Productivity:
Improvements found in the newer snips include less space between the handles, soft grips and curved handles. Using a curved handle can help keep your wrist straight. A soft grip lowers the pressure on your hand and fingers. When the space between handles is less, you may be able to get a better grip on the tool.
No pair of snips will work well for every task. Decide what the job requires and select the correct snips. Manufacturers make specific snips for left and right cuts, straight cuts, and wide or tight curved cuts. Manufacturers color-code snip handles for the type of cut they make— yellow for straight, green for right, and red for left.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Cassie Malecha, DPT – Eastern Washington University