I have read just a few of the post in the ergonomics thread, so
please forgive if I stray or repeat. Back pain has not been my
problem, fortunately. My bench is high enough that my head stays
elevated and that seems to help. The ensuing problem is more
aggravation to wrists and arms in general. Several years ago I had
carpal tunnel surgery on one wrist and will need more extensive
orthopedic work on the other wrist soon, due simply to pain from
bone build-up in the joint. While the carpal tunnel work put me out
of work for a while, the bone work in the other wrist will likely
require much more time before a good “second hand” is available. So,
I will not be able to do any but the simplest jobs.
I have often thought, “Look at that.they taught the kid to use third
hand tweezers for all the work! He will never learn freehand
control.” Now, I wonder if that third hand but certainly much
slower process is what I should have been doing. Would it have
helped or not?
It seems most injury I have developed comes from the "ring clamp"
and working both hands in stone setting, mostly including bright
cut, pave and channel work. That is my guess. In that case, the
solution was simply not available in an easily usable form. Today,
apparently it is in the form of pneumatic hammers to assist in all
sorts of work requiring great pressure applied with precise control.
That pneumatic assistance just might have saved my wrists and hands.
I really do not know but suspect some of the present physical
problems would not be the pain (literally) today if I had the
machines available today.
I suggest that anyone who wants to continue at the bench research
and invest in the best devices available to prevent bodily damage.
Unfortunately, once the damage has happened you often realize that
damage “creped up on you” and you did not prevent it from happening.
After 30 years in the business, ergonomics is a relatively "new"
term. That is unfortunate. Also unfortunate is for the employed,
that is, those who are not self-employed, the need for speed often
outweighs the need for ergonomics. I have seen few employers who
seriously take the need of the bench worker to heart. This includes
everything from ergonomic tools, set-up and equipment to health safe
dust collectors. A previous employer agreed with me to replace the
old 1940’s buffer/collector with an efficient Handler device only
after I proved to him how much gold he was losing! The decision had
nothing to do with health. Health was my goal and through business
economics the change was made. Too bad it was not so easily (I say
easily with tongue in cheek) done with ergonomic tools and bench
You can purchase a watchmaker’s bench from Rolex if you want…if you
are a Rolex dealer. This wonderfully ergonomic bench was close to
$2500 US when I last checked a few years ago. We can do the same
with less money IF enough attention is paid to the real bodily needs
of the bench worker. Those needs of concern for the bench worker are
real and should be addressed properly. Some jewelry companies do
address those needs and I tip my hat to them. Others.well, nuff said
Thanks for the good line of thought.
God Bless and Peace.