Solution Summary: Powered Nibblers
The powered nibbler for cutting metal is an engineering control that may help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity. The powered nibbler cuts through most metals easily, reducing the effort needed to cut metal with other methods, such as tin snips or handsaws.
Powered nibblers and shears allow for easy cutting of various shapes and thicknesses of metal. TRUMPF, Inc. has several different power tools designed for various cutting situations. The TrueTool PN 201 is meant for cutting sheet metal with a tall profile and can cut up to 6.38 inches in depth on metal that is up to 0.08 inches thick (Figure 1). The TrueTool N 350 is capable of cutting in 3 different directions and can cut metal up to 0.14 inches thick (Figure 2). The TrueTool N 1000 is designed to be used with thick sheets and is capable of cutting metal up to 0.4 inches thick (Figure 3).
Figure 1. TrueTool PN 201. (Photo courtesy of TRUMPF)
Figure 2. TrueTool N 350. (Photo courtesy of TRUMPF)
Figure 3. TrueTool N 1000. (Photo courtesy of TRUMPF)
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 powered nibbler can help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity by easily cutting through various thicknesses and shapes of metal.
How Risks are Reduced:
A powered nibbler reduces stressful hand and wrist activity, because it allows for easy cutting of various thicknesses and shapes of metal when compared to using traditional hand tools, such as a hacksaw. In the larger model, the grip can be attached in two different positions to allow for more control and less stress during different cutting tasks.
According to the manufacturer, when using the TruTool N 500, “you can guide the nibbler vertically from top to bottom with very little force.” When referring to the TrueTool N 700, the manufacturer states, “This allows you the best working position in tight and hard-to-reach spots.” Regarding the TrueTool N 1000, the manufacturer states, “it is very convenient to work with, thanks to well-engineered grip ergonomics.”
Safety and health experts believe a powered nibbler will help to reduce stressful hand and wrist activity because it reduces the need to manipulate traditional hand tools, such as a hacksaw, to cut various building materials. There have not been independent published studies measuring the effects of a powered nibbler on the incidence of stressful hand and wrist activity. However, studies have shown an association between stressful hand and wrist activities with MSDs. (Spielholz et al. 2006; Griffin et al. 2006; Da Costa et al. 2009).
Effects on Productivity:
A powered nibbler may increase productivity by more quickly cutting metals than with traditional hand tools.
The weight of some powered nibblers may deter some laborers from carrying and using them on the job site.
Using a powered nibbler may produce less dust when cutting some building materials when compared to tin snips or handsaws.
Always follow manufacturer's tool guidelines and suggested use to avoid any potential injuries.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; Neil Morris, SPT; and Jesse Brouwer, SPT – Eastern Washington University