3.9 – Hand Tool Safety
Hammers, wrenches, chisels, pliers, screwdrivers, and other hand tools are often underrated as sources of potential danger. Hand tools may look harmless, but they are the cause of many injuries. In fact, an estimated 8 percent of all workplace compensable injuries are caused by incidents associated with hand tools. These injuries can be serious, including loss of fingers or eyesight.
What are some basic tips when using hand tools?
- Always provide training on how to choose the right tool for the job, how to correctly use each tool, and how to identify when tools need repair.
- Select the right tool for the job. Substitutes increase the chance of having an accident.
- Use tools designed to allow wrist to stay straight. Avoid using hand tools with your wrist bent.
- Ensure that employees are properly trained in the safe use of hand tools.
- Use good quality tools.
- Keep tools in good condition at all times.
- Inspect tools for defects before use. Replace or repair defective tools.
- Keep cutting tools sharp and cover sharp edges with suitable covering to protect the tool and to prevent injuries from unintended contact.
- Replace cracked, splintered, or broken handles on files, hammers, screwdrivers, or sledges.
- Replace worn jaws on wrenches, pipe tools and pliers.
- Redress burred or mushroomed heads of striking tools.
- Pull on a wrench or pliers. Never push unless you hold the tool with your palm open.
- Point sharp tools (e.g., saws, chisels, knives) laying on benches away from aisles and handles should not extend over the edge of the bench top.
- Maintain tools carefully. Keep them clean and dry, and store them properly after each use.
- Wear safety glasses or goggles, or face shield, and well-fitting gloves appropriate for the hazards to which you may be exposed when doing various tasks.
- Keep the work environment clean and tidy to avoid clutter which may cause accidents.
What should I avoid when using hand tools?
- Do not use tools for jobs they are not intended to do. For example, do not use a slot screwdriver as a chisel, pry bar, wedge or punch, or wrenches as hammers.
- Do not apply excessive force or pressure on tools.
- Do not cut towards yourself when using cutting tools.
- Do not hold the stock in the palm of your hand when using a cutting tool or a screwdriver.
- Do not wear bulky gloves to operate hand tools.
- Do not throw tools. Hand them, handle first, directly to other workers.
- Do not carry tools in a way that interferes with using both hands on a ladder, while climbing on a structure, or when doing any hazardous work. If working on a ladder or scaffold, tools should be raised and lowered using a bucket and hand line.
- Do not carry a sharp tool in your pocket