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Shoveling is the act of using a shovel to move material from one location to another. Shovels are tools used for many different purposes, from clearing snow away from driveways and sidewalks to planting flowers in gardens. Shoveling is an activity that is done by many different people both at home and at work, though it is usually only done outdoors. Coal, soil, and snow are materials that are commonly moved by shovels. Many shovels are sharpened at the end; they can be used for cutting into and through tough dirt, roots, or ice.
A wide variety of people engage in shoveling on a daily basis, as it is a necessary part of a great many tasks and jobs. Most of these jobs involve the use of different kinds of shovels that are best suited to the task at hand, though most shovels can be used for purposes other than those they were originally intended for. People tend to use shovels with wide, high-capacity scoops for shoveling snow, as the objective is usually to clear as much snow as possible off from wide areas. Gardening shovels tend to have sharp points and edges for cutting with some degree of precision into tough ground. Many children engage in shoveling with toy shovels, which tend to be very small and plastic and which are best suited to digging through sand.
Safety is often an issue with shoveling, as the task can put considerable strain on one's shoulders and back. As such, it is important that one has good posture when shoveling anything heavy enough to cause strain. Keeping the legs at least shoulder-width apart provides solid support and balance. Bending from the knees instead of the back prevents excessive strain on the back and can prevent long-term back problems.
When the task at hand is greater than a few people with shovels can handle, power shovels can be used to dig up large areas in a small amount of time. A power shovel is a large, mechanical, bucket-equipped machine that can handle tremendous loads and can be used to clear such difficult materials as stone fragments and minerals. Power shovels are often used in mining operations or for the loading of materials such as coal.
Hand shovels are very common tools because they can be readily mass-produced. They are made up of two primary parts, the handle and the blade. Usually, stronger and more durable materials are the most effective for shoveling, as such shovels can handle heavier loads and are less likely to break.