From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Friction grips: more examples

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH

Meat and poultry industry knives

Case study in importance of good friction grips

Knife1 Knife2
Constant use of knives

Many workers in the meat and poultry industries constantly hold knives, which makes the design of knife grip a critical issue. In the early 1980s, the traditional wood handles on knives were identified as a potential source of bacteria contamination. Consequently, knife manufacturers switched to plastic grips.

Unfortunately, the initial type of plastic that was used was more  slippery to hold in this environment and workers needed to grip the handles more tightly to do their jobs. This added hand exertion contributed to the overall problem of wrist disorders in these industries.

A short time later, industry personnel recognized the issue and knife manufactures switched to a softer, stickier plastic that was easier to hold. This experience highlights the importance of good friction grips on tools.

Pens and pencils

FrictionPen FrictionPencil
Friction grip on pen Hair roller on pencil

The recent advent of pens with a friction grip provides an additional example of the same concept. The same effect can be achieved with other types of wraps, even a hair roller.  Note that increasing the diameter size for the pen/pencil can also be helpful, especially for people with larger hands.

More friction wraps

Rubber rings

The screwdriver shown above was fitted with thick rubber rings over the handle. These rings are thicker than typical wraps and increase the size of the grip in the palm of the hand. This type of quick fix is acceptable, but also could be improved upon.

FrictionMyGrip FrictionMyGripHammer
My Grip moldable plastic

My Grip is a plastic that conforms to the shape of your grip when it is heated and held. As the plastic cools, it stays in the shape of your grip, thus creating a custom fit covering for a tool. When reheated, it can be changed again. Available from

Many other types of plastic dips and wraps are available, with varying characteristics depending upon the need for increasing grip diameter, providing friction, and/or eliminating pressure points.