OSEA Safety News

Your Guide to the Proper use of Hand Tools

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Hand Tools and Why They Still Matter – Although everyone seems to have power saws, lathes, drills, planers, and battery power capacity has improved, the basic tools like hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches will always have a place in your toolbox.

Care and maintenance of these tools are sometimes handed down generation to generation, and they are cleaned and oiled to keep clean and carefully stored in your basement or garage workshop.

Unfortunately there are still injuries associated with the use of hand tools, and according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are five basic safety rules that can help prevent hazards when using hand tools:

  1. Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
  2. Use the right tool for the job.
  3. Examine each tool for damage before use and do not use damaged tools.
  4. Operate tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
  5. Provide and use properly the right personal protective equipment.

Other suggestions when using hand tools are:

  • Using the wrong tool can be dangerous. Using a chisel as a screwdriver or a screw driver as a chisel may cause the tip of the tool to break and fly off, hitting the user or another person. Only use tools for their designated purpose.
  • Always maintain tools properly. If the wooden handle on a tool such as an ax or hammer is loose, splintered, or cracked, the head of the tool may fly off and strike the user or another person.
  • Repair or replace damaged or worn tools. A wrench with its jaws sprung might easily slip, causing hand injuries. If the wrench flies, it may strike the user or another person.
  • Impact tools such as chisels, wedges, and drift pins are unsafe if they have mushroomed heads. The heads might shatter when struck, sending sharp fragments flying.

Bladed Tools

  • Bladed tools present the risks of cutting, slicing, snipping, and stabbing.
  • To prevent injuries when using bladed tools, always use bladed tools with the blades and points aimed away from yourself and other people.
  • Direct bladed tools away from aisle areas.
  • Store bladed tools properly; use the sheath or protective covering if there is one.
  • Keep blades sharp and inspect them regularly. Dull blades are difficult to use and control and can be far more dangerous than well-maintained blades.
  • Safety knives are available to reduce the risks associated with traditional razor tools.
  • Keep blades sharp and inspect them regularly. Dull blades are difficult to use and control and can be far more dangerous than well-maintained blades.
  • Safety knives are available to reduce the risks associated with traditional razor tools.

Impact Tools

  • Inspect an impact tool before using it. Look for mushroomed heads, cracks, chips, or other signs of damage or weakness.
  • Always wear proper eye protection when using impact tools.
  • Fire is a potential hazard that is often overlooked when working with hand tools. Sparks from striking impact tools can ignite fumes, oxygen, paper, or solvents being used in the area. Avoid using impact tools near combustible materials or vapors.

Minimizing Hand Tool Risks

  • Injuries cause by hand tools include cuts, burns, scrapes, sprains, eye injuries, hearing loss, broken bones, and pulmonary (lung) disorders.
  • The use of certain hand tools creates a lot of airborne dust and particles. The use of sandpaper, planes, files, and saws, for example, may create sawdust or drywall powder. Short-term exposure may cause minor irritation while long-term exposure may cause chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, or other pulmonary disorders. Wear filtering masks and eye protection when you are using a tool that creates dust.
  • Before operating any power tool for the first time, always read the manual to familiarize yourself with the tool. If the manual is missing, contact the manufacturer for a replacement.

Warning!

  • Never use a tool unless you have been trained to use it correctly.
  • Each tool must be thoroughly checked each time it is used, and appropriate personal protective equipment must be worn.

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