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Hand Tools and Ergonomics

The last significant change in tool development took place in the Industrial Revolution with the advent of manufacturing. As automation replaced most processes using many of the tasks utilizing high levels of force were eliminated. The process of automation speeded up production and humans were left with performing tasks limited in scope and involving higher levels of speed and repetition. The result of this “partial automation” has been the emergence of conditions known as cumulative trauma disorders (CTD).

Since the Industrial Revolution tool innovation has not kept up with rapid developments in technology. There has been a need for specialization in tool design based on human use research but little of this has been done. As a result of the growing awareness of CTD cases the last ten years tool design has received some attention. In 1963 Drillis set forth a criteria for basic tool requirements. They are summarized as follows:

1) An efficient tool must effectively perform the function for which it is intended.

2) It must be properly proportioned to the body dimensions of the operator to maximize efficiency of the human involvement.

3) It must be designed to match the strength and work capacity of the operator. Thus allowances have to be made for the gender, age, training, and physical fitness of the operator.

4) It should not cause undue fatigue, i.e. it should not demand unusual postures or practices that will require more energy expenditure than necessary.

5) It must provide sensory feedback in the form of pressure, some shock, texture, temperature, etc., to the user.

6)    The capital and maintenance costs should be reasonable.



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