The influence of hand tool weight and arm position on shoulder muscle load was studied by electromyography. The investigation was made to facilitate recommendations on work place design. The aim is to reduce the occurrence of occupational shoulder disorders in industry. Nine volunteers held 21 different arm positions with the hand over waist level. In each position, the hand was loaded with 0, 1, and 2 kg. Each load was maintained for 15 s. The myoelectric activity in six shoulder muscles was recorded and analyzed automatically with respect to the amplitude. The results indicate that the degree of upper arm elevation is the most important parameter influencing shoulder muscle load. Short rotator muscles stabilizing the shoulder joint were found to be more hand-load dependent than the deltoid muscle. The ergonomic implications of this study are that work situations should be designed so that the arm can be kept close to the body and the hand load minimized.