Small hand tools don’t weigh very much individually, but once you start piling them all into a toolbox the weight adds up quickly. Workers often carry around heavy, awkwardly shaped toolboxes in their right hands as they move between their truck and the worksite. This tendency to carry a heavy load predominantly on the right side can lead to muscular imbalances and compensatory movement habits which often result in pain and discomfort. Here are our top 3 tips to improve your toolbox ergonomics:
1. Only Take What You Need
When people put together a toolbox they usually add tools for every situation possible to avoid unnecessary trips back to the truck. This often leads to seldom used tools falling to the bottom and getting buried. Heck, half the time people walk back to the truck looking for a tool that is actually at the bottom of their toolbox! Take out all those unnecessary tools and lighten your load for your everyday work and stop thinking of the walk back to the truck as a bad thing. Taking that extra trip can actually be beneficial as walking is known to have a number of positive health effects.
2. Split Your Kit Up Into Two Toolboxes
If you are required to carry a large number of tools to complete your job you could consider splitting your toolbox up into 2 smaller ones. Having two smaller toolkits allows you to carry one on each side which more evenly distributes the weight across your body and helps prevent muscular imbalances.
3. Get a Set of Wheels
Using a wheeled toolbox or strapping your normal toolbox to a collapsible hand truck is a great idea if you have to park your truck far away from the worksite or if you have multiple things to transport. If you eliminate the need to carry your toolbox, you eliminate the associated risk!
If you implement these 3 simple tips you can significantly reduce your risk for injury. But you should also watch out for how you lift your toolbox up onto work benches or into the back of the truck. Avoid lifting the toolbox with your palm facing down and your elbow winging out to the side. This action is a rotator cuff injury waiting to happen!
Instead turn your palm up, keep your elbow at your side and curl your arm up so your palm moves toward the front of your shoulder. Basically lift your toolbox like you are doing a bicep curl at the gym. Our bicep muscles are much stronger than our rotator cuff muscles and are designed for this exact purpose.
Do you have any other alternative tool box suggestions or tips that you use that make your life easier? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!
If you use small hand tools on a regular basis, check out our series of MoveSafe Moments for more tips to create healthy work habits.