Guidance on the Safe Selection of Power Hand Tools to Reduce User Injuries

Two new SAE Standards documents cover a process for selection of safer power hand tools to prevent stress injuries and ongoing health problems in users subject to vibration, noise, and other hazards.

SAE’s EG-1B1, Powered Hand Tools-Productivity, Ergonomics and Safety Committee, recently released two related documents offering guidance for power hand tool selection to help prevent Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), hearing loss, and repetitive motion injuries in power hand tool users. AS6228A: Safety Requirements for Procurement, Maintenance, and Use of Handheld Powered Tools is an updated 2014 standard. It provides a process management approach to the evaluation and procurement of quieter and lower vibration power tools. Using it will help managers and engineers apply selection criteria to prevent injuries, promote efficiency, and save costs by reducing exposure to noise, vibration, uncontrolled dust, and other hazards.

A supporting SAE Aerospace Information Report, AIR6916: Guidelines for Management of Powered Hand Tools for Productivity, Life Cycle Cost Management, and Safety and Health Risk Management has also been released. This “layman’s guide” explains the hazards of power tool usage and makes the AS6228A standard understandable in basic terms for a wider audience.

These new documents were initially developed at the request of the U.S. government to combat HAVS, which is a neurovascular disease of the hands and fingers brought on by exposure to intense vibration. According to the National Institutes of Health, HAVS can cause numbness, pain, and blanching of the skin in affected areas.

SAE’s EG-1B1 committee develops guidelines supporting the evaluation, procurement, and use of powered hand tools in order to better integrate safety, health, and productivity into their use. The chairperson of EG-1B1 is Mark Geiger.

To learn more about the work of this SAE committee, or to add your expertise to its efforts, contact SAE staff representative Rhonda Joseph.

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