Solution Summary: Moldable Tool Grips
Moldable tool grips are engineering controls that may help to reduce forceful hand and wrist activities. A custom tool grip, such as My Grip™, is a moldable material that can be applied to tool handles. The new tool grip allows the worker to operate the tool with greater hand comfort while using less grip force. Greater hand comfort and decreased grip force will diminish fatigue, thereby reducing possible mistakes and injuries.
My Grip™, is a 5 X 5 inch formable material that becomes pliable when placed in hot water. Once pliable, the material is wrapped around a tool handle and squeezed to leave the impression of the person’s hand on the tool handle (Figure 1). Although not all tool handle wraps are reusable, My Grip™ can be remolded.
Figure 1. My Grip applied to a hammer. (Photo courtesy of FastCap, LLC.)
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 moldable tool grips can help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity by making tool handles more comfortable and less stressful to grip.
How Risks are Reduced:
Moldable tool handle wraps can improve the contact area between the hand and tool handle, and can reduce exposure to uncomfortable contact stresses to the hand. Also, wraps may reduce the amount of grip force required to operate a tool and perform a particular task. Finally, wraps may make it possible to perform a task while maintaining neutral, comfortable postures of the wrist, elbow, or other joints.
FastCap® claims that My Grip™ minimizes exposure to forceful exertions, awkward postures, and contact stresses that cause hand fatigue.
There have not been independent published studies measuring the effect of using My Grip™ on the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders. Regardless, health and safety experts believe that workers will be less likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders if they use ergonomic hand tools, due to reduced exposure to known risk factors. Independent studies have shown an association between musculoskeletal disorders and risk factors such as forceful exertions of the wrist and hand, awkward wrist postures, and contact stresses (increased pressure concentrated in a small area of the hand). Ergonomic hand tools lessen forceful exertions, awkward postures, or contact stresses compared to the standard versions of the same tool, according to some studies.
Effects on Productivity:
Using the appropriate tool with ergonomic features can improve productivity because workers may be able to complete tasks more quickly and with fewer mistakes. This increased productivity may be due to reduced muscle fatigue, fewer mistakes, the ability to use more powerful gripping positions, and less lost time due to worker musculoskeletal illnesses.