Hand Tool Safety

Taking the proper safety precautions with power tools is essential to workplace safety. Unfortunately, so much emphasis is put on staying safe while working with power tools, many times workers fail to recognize the pitfalls of working with hand tools.

Hand tools, when used incorrectly, can be very dangerous. Studies show that 8 percent of industrial accidents occur as a result of the improper use of hand tools. Therefore, it is vital to be aware of all of the safety precautions that come with the use of these tools.

Improper use of hand tools cause injuries that range from simple cuts, contusions, and abrasions to more serious conditions such as punctures, fractures, and amputations. These injuries occur when hand tools are used incorrectly. Examples of incorrect usage include:

  • Loosening a tight fastener by pushing a wrench instead of pulling.
  • Using undersized pliers to bend metal.
  • Removing a screw with a screwdriver while holding the item you are removing the screw from in the other hand.
  • Cutting toward your body with any type of cutting tool.
  • Using dull cutting tools.
  • Filing materials that are not secured in a vise.
  • Filing materials without a handle on the file.
  • Using tools that are the wrong size for the job.

One of the most important rules of working with hand tools is that these tools should never be used for anything but their intended purpose. Not only is it important to use hand tools in the correct way, it also is important that these tools are in good condition. If in doubt, do not use the tool. Here are some common hand tool defects to look for:

  • Hammers with chipped heads
  • Hammers with loose or broken handles
  • Screwdrivers with broken or worn tips
  • Cutting tools with dull surfaces
  • Chisels with mushroomed heads
  • Any tool that has had its temper removed

Be especially careful when working with older tools since with age comes the likelihood that these tools will break or become worn. Tools with wooden handles are especially dangerous.

When working with hand tools it is important that you always wear the proper safety equipment for the job. You also should carry tools by your side with any points and sharp edges facing down. And never use hand tools with oily or greasy hands.

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