Safe Shoveling

February 03, 2015

Winter is here! And it doesn’t matter how old or fit you are, clearing the snow off our sidewalks and driveways is hard work that can easily result in strains and pain. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of "ergonomically" designed shovels. Is it worth the extra money to purchase a new shovel? What qualities should you look for in a “good” snow shovel?

The Bent Handle The Liberty Mutual Research Center for Safety and Health found that when people use a bent shaft snow shovel, they bend forward less than with a straight shaft shovel. By bending less, this may reduce the maximum spinal compressive and shear forces created when lifting the loaded shovel from the ground.

Metal vs. Plastic Should you go for durability or safety? The tradeoff is that a metal shovel is more durable, but is the heavier shovel. This weight will result in fatigue faster. A plastic shovel may not last as long, but is the lightest material. A plastic shovel will be easier to lift and is recommended for that reason.

The Size of the Shovel This, like any other piece of equipment, should match the person doing the shoveling. A taller, heavier person can use a larger bladed shovel with a longer shaft while a shorter, lighter person should use a shovel with a smaller blade and a shorter shaft.

Handles The handles should allow for a free grip when wearing gloves or mittens. The cushioned "D" grip handle provides the best grip and comfort. Look for a fiberglass handle if possible. A fiberglass handle is up to 3x stronger than wood and won't splinter, warp, or rot.

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