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Under Doctor's Orders - AGR-approved hand tools

Taking time to choose hand tools that are ergonomically designed can not only mean less blisters, it can literally save your back. 

Chances are that when you pick up a tool, say a screwdriver or pliers, you don’t really think whether using them could be bad for your health. If you’re like the majority of builders, you simply get on with the task in hand and move on. If you do give any thought to your own health and safety it’s more likely to be around catching the odd blister or suffering from a bit of hand fatigue. Not much to worry about, a few painkillers, a couple of day’s rest over the weekend and you’re right as rain again.

If you do fit into this camp, chances are you also find yourself complaining of a sore back by the end of the day, passing it off as just a bit of strain from the way you’ve been working. However, strange as it may seem, the two could actually be connected; the type of hand tools you use, how you use them and the comfort they provide can affect your back, as this is the area of your body that really takes the strain.

It may seem unusual but it has been confirmed in independent research and tests by doctors and therapists, so you’re not going mad – your choice of screwdriver could have led to that sore back. Any good doctor will tell you, when it comes to the subject of "back health" the whole musculoskeletal system has to be taken into account. Each muscle, each bone and each joint affects the system as a whole, so if you’re not holding your tools in the best way it’s your back that ultimately pays for it.

While correcting your posture and resting up when you feel the aching kicking in can help save your back, choosing hand tools that have been proven to help prevent the pain in the first place is the best place to start.

But where do you start looking and how can you tell whether a certain screwdriver will be better than another in preventing back pain, without a lot of trial and error? The trick is to look for the AGR symbol on the packaging. AGR is a campaign for healthier backs, that offers recommendations on products that help prevent muscle pain and back ache, resulting from their research. It’s also an independent committee made of renowned medical experts, so they know their stuff and it means that AGR approval can be taken seriously for builders looking to make a purchase, rather than just being marketing gimmick.

AGR-approved hand tools, such as those from WIHA, feature concepts that are relatively simple when you think about it, but can make a huge difference to your health. The secret is in the turn, and without getting too scientific, is based on the development of handles adapted to suit the size of your hand. The four different WIHA SoftFinish® handle sizes, for example, mean that each handle offers the ideal balance of guidance, speed and torque for the respective fastening task. The handle size concept means that the user can both quickly screw in screws and transmit high levels of force. Shorter, thick handles are great for applying maximum power for larger screws with low fatigue levels, while long, slim handles with a thin quick-turning zone optimise the dynamic quick-turning dynamics for small screws.

The WIHA SoftFinish® screwdrivers feature soft and hard zones integrated into the handle of the tool to support the hand and reduce pains in the joints and muscles, not just in the hand but throughout the body.

It’s not just screwdrivers either; WIHA Inomic® pliers have a specially angled head with an ergonomic shape that ensures your hand is in a comfortable position during use, relieving the strain. The concept enables you to work for longer periods while sparing the muscles and saving energy. Because of the way the hand is positioned on the tool, force is distributed evenly, rather than most of the hard work being done by one or two fingers as with standard pliers.

Of course, back pain can’t be totally ruled out just by using ergonomically designed hand tools. Builders need to think about their posture, take a minute to readjust their position rather than straining, bend properly and rest up when necessary. But these actions, combined with using the most suitable hand tools, in the right way may just save your back. 

View the full WIHA range here