The Cost of Ergonomics in the Electrical Industry

Over the past decade, the electrical industry has done a great job of recognizing the ergonomic safety issues caused by the use of manual tools. The negative effects these tools have caused on the body and risk to ergonomic injury make workers more injury prone and create hidden dangers on job sites. During this same period of time, some electrical tool manufacturers have listened to the voice of the electrical industry and have constantly innovated and invented new tools and features to improve the safety, accountability, and ergonomics of electrical tools in the marketplace.

The Switch

ErgoLab_Insights.gifAs an undisputed and well-known fact, the laborious and strenuous attributes of manual tools increase repetitive movement, introduce awkward working postures, and increase the risk of ergonomic injury and illnesses that affect the musculoskeletal system, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sciatica, and muscle strains, to name a few. These attributes are slowly becoming less and less common in the workplace as the switch to battery-operated tools has taken place by large and small contractors across the country.

While the switch from manual tools to their ergonomically improved battery-operated counterparts has already begun, there are still many electrical workers who are using the outdated methods of manual cutting and crimping on job sites across the country. The ergonomic shortcomings of manual cutters and crimpers include an increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders, sprains, strains, repetitive motion injuries, a number of soft tissue damages, and other injuries.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study on upper body injuries involving the repetitive use of tools, approximately 61 percent involve injury to the hands and wrists, 20 percent involve injury to the shoulders, 10 percent involve injury to the arms, and 9 percent involve injury to the trunk and back. Signs of these musculoskeletal disorders include decreased range of motion, decreased grip strength, swelling, cramping, and loss of function. These injuries can include symptoms of numbness, pain, tingling, and stiffness. The reason manual tools cause this type of injury is due to the repetitive nature and prolonged force exertions and awkward postures of using manual tools.

Understanding the health and ergonomic benefits that battery-operated tools offer their employees, a company recently made a historic transition, requiring all trucks and crews to turn in their manual cutters and crimpers and switch to Greenlee Gator battery-operated tools. Simply making the switch to the Greenlee battery-operated tools eliminated many upper body injuries, substantially reduced the high forces of muscle exertion on the shoulder adductor and abductor muscles, decreased the peak forces of the flexor muscles in the forearm, and improved the postures from twisted and awkward trunk positions, among others. Overall, this company and others alike have seen a significant reduction in the number of injuries, thus improving the health and ergonomic safety of their workers.

ergolab3.gifChoosing the “right” tool for you

For those companies who have already outfitted their crews with battery- operated electrical tools, determining the ergonomic differences between two various brands of similarly performing tools can be a complex and a wide- ranging task to manage. Evaluating the ergonomic benefits of battery tools with the intention of uncovering the most ergonomically-efficient tool for a job can be accomplished through an ergonomic comparison analysis.

When conducting an ergonomic comparison analysis the following features