Reducing force

Where force is highlighted as a problem, especially when applied in combination with poor postures, the general principles are to:

  • Reduce the forces required eg use other power sources rather than muscle power
  • Reduce the frequency with which force needs to be applied
  • Reduce the time spent applying force. This especially relates to static forces that applied and sustained for steadying or supporting items or gripping tools.

Work organisation and task design

Consider why high forces are necessary. Is it because of ill-fitting components, lack of maintenance or heavy items? Can this be addressed 'upstream' of this job? Through better maintenance? By reducing the weight of items, even those that are not lifted, but simply moved or manipulated manually.

Presentation / orientation of work

Consider altering the position or orientation of work pieces or tools so that any force can be applied more easily and efficiently. ie improve the posture of the workers when applying forces.

Distribute force and enable stronger muscle groups to be used

Can foot pedals be used to provide force?

Distribute force requirements over several fingers rather than one. Allow operators to use alternate hands to operate controls.

Mechanical advantage

Provide some means of increasing mechanical advantage, such as longer levers, or other means of mechanical assistance.


Select appropriate gloves. Poor glove design, or inappropriate choice of gloves or glove sizing, can lead to poor sense of touch and increased effort in gripping.


Use light weight tools or provide supports, jigs or counterbalance devices.

Hand tools should not require excessive force or have handles that are too large or small. They should not exert pressure or dig into the hand.

Keep cutting edges sharp and moving parts appropriately lubricated.

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Updated: 2021-10-11