Vibration control and ergonomic grip head off operator fatigue and injury
—Sponsored article by Fein Canadian Power Tool Company
In some jurisdictions, occupational safety laws cap the number of hours per day workers can use power tools, depending on the tools’ vibration level. The regulations aim to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other injuries resulting from extended periods of power tool usage.
These policies aren’t as prolific in North America, so FEIN—a global manufacturer of industrial power tools—took a different approach. It significantly reduced the amount of vibration in its industrial power tools, and launched extensive field tests to develop its ‘operator first’ design.
“With these new grinders, FEIN spent a tremendous amount of time and research just on the ergonomics of the hand grip, to provide low-fatigue grinding,” said Randy McDonald, Mississauga, Ont.-based national product manager with Fein Canadian Power Tool Company, at the event. “They designed it so it will perfectly fit the operator’s hand.”
FEIN—headquartered in Germany—ran field tests in Canada (and other countries) to develop the tools. Dozens of prototype grinders were distributed to manufacturers, to collect feedback on comfort and functionality, McDonald noted. “They really focused on the North American market and the specific needs of operators here.”
Most power tool manufacturers don’t provide data on vibration values; opting instead to use language such as ‘low vibration’. FEIN, however, lists vibration values right in the power tools’ specs, providing transparent and reassuring data to buyers and operators.
“In Europe, this data is very important because they classify the tool based on how many hours a day you’re allowed to use it because of the vibration level. If the tool has an extremely high vibration level, the threshold may be four hours. After four hours that operator is supposed to go to another job. Our grinding tools, according to European numbers and stats, can be used for eight hours a day.”
Tools that can be used for the duration of a standard industrial shift provide advantages around productivity, employee scheduling and continuity of work—beyond safety and operator comfort benefits, he added.
“When we go into a big company we’ll often approach the safety coordinator first because we’re talking about the safety features of the tool—the vibration, the one-handed grip, how the tool is designed for the operator, not just to perform grinding,”McDonald said.
“Our tool might be more expensive than our competitors but it offers significantly more safety and efficiency features. It’s the added value that FEIN provides. A great example of that is FEIN’s MultiMaster oscillating tool. What they did to reduce the vibration with the MultiMaster through ergonomics and vibration dampening, no other oscillating tool in the world has that.”
At Fabtech, FEIN had a number of metal grinding and finishing tools on display, including the WSG-15-125 PRT compact angle grinder. The ErgoGrip design provides benefits such as:
• An ideal handle position for working with reduced fatigue;
• Increased safety via the non-slip grip;
• Secure hold and control, even when wearing welders’ gloves;
• Maximum contact between hand and machine.
The tool has maximum contact between the handle and the operator’s palm, providing a better grip, greater safety, control and efficiency.
As FEIN is demonstrating, buyers of metal grinding tools should take into account more than just the price. Attention to details such as the tool grip and vibration values can go a long way to preventing occupational injury and productivity lags.
FEIN has been a world-leading power tool manufacturer for over 140 years. FEIN Canadian Power Tool Company, located in Mississauga, Ont., provides a range of high-quality power tools and accessories. Visit www.fein.ca for more information.
To view other articles on industrial power tool selection, safety and care, see the Technology Showcase.