The old adage "If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur," can be re-purposed and applied to hand tools: If you think buying high quality hand tools for your workers is expensive, wait until you buy cheap ones. Every business wants to cut costs and improve their bottom line, but buying cheap tools is not the way to do it. Poorly made or non-ergonomic tools can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. These injuries lead to insurance costs, lost productivity, lost wages, and more.
Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries are injuries to muscles, tissues, tendons, nerves, and bones. The CDC has found that "a large number of injuries known as musculoskeletal injuries are attributable to hand tool use in occupational settings." These injuries can be caused by tasks that involve repeated impacts on the hands, such as swinging a hammer, or repetitive motions, such as the constant turning of a screwdriver.
Non-ergonomic tools are a primary cause of musculoskeletal injuries. The CDC defines an ergonomic tool as one that is right for the specific job, and designed in a way that doesn't create undue pressure or an awkward grip on a worker's hand. An ergonomic tool will also encourage good posture and form while working. While adequate employee training is critical to preventing these injuries, well-made and well-designed tools are just as essential.
The Cost of Musculoskeletal Injuries
According to Health Research Funding, one out of every three dollars spent on worker's compensation goes toward workers with musculoskeletal injuries In addition to these onerous insurance costs, lost productivity and wages make up a large portion of the total costs that these disorders can bring. Thirty four percent of lost workdays and an estimated $20 billion in direct cost each year can be attributed to musculoskeletal injuries.
Health Research Funding also found that the average musculoskeletal injury keeps people out of work for 11 days. Injuries to wrists, arms, and shoulders take even longer. A wrist injury keeps workers home for 17 days on average, an arm injury for 18 days, and a shoulder injury for 21 days.
The CDC found that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a disorder affecting the wrists and forearms, is one of the most common afflictions among workers in manufacturing, operations, and other industrial settings, and among the most common musculoskeletal injuries incurred in the workplace. Most businesses can't afford to risk exposing their workers to such a common ailment – the money they save by opting to use low-end tools will evaporate in the face of these enormous financial and human costs.