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Handling Hand Tools Safely
Engr Iqbal Ahmed Khan

An estimated 8% of industrial accidents are caused by hand tolls. These accidents are caused by using the wrong tool for the job, using the right tool incorrectly, failing to wear personal protective equipment, or failing to follow safety guidelines. Take a moment to review these safety tips for handling common hand tools.

Screwdrivers:

  • Always match the size and type of screwdriver blade to fit the screw.

  • Don’t hold the work piece against your body while using the screwdriver.

  • Don’t put your fingers near the blade of the screwdriver when tightening a screw.

  • Don’t force a screwdriver by using a hammer or pliers on it.

  • Don’t use a screwdriver as a hammer or as a chisel.

  • Don’t use a screwdriver if your hands are wet or oily.

  • Discard and replace your screwdriver if it has a broken handle, bent blade, etc

  • Use an insulated screwdriver when performing any electrical work.

Hammer:

  • Use the correct hammer for the type of work to be done.

  • Have an unobstructed swing area when using a hammer and watch for overhead interference.

  • Don’t strike nails or other objects with the ‘’cheek’’ (side) of the hammer.

  • Don’t use a hammer as a wedge or a pry bar, or for pulling large spikes.

  • Don’t use a hammer if your hands are oily or greasy.

Pliers:

  • Don’t use pliers as a wrench or hammer.

  • Don’t use pliers that are cracked, broken, or ‘’sprung’’

  • Don’t attempt to force pliers by using a hammer on them.

  • Use insulated pliers when doing electrical work.

  • Keep pliers grips free of grease or oil, which could cause them to slip.

Wrenches:

  • Select the correct size wrench for the job.
  • Never use a pipe as a wrench handle extension.
  • Stand in a balanced position to avoid sudden slips
  • When using an adjustable wrench, pull on the wrench instead of pushing against the fixed jaw.
  • Don’t use a wrench if your hands are oily or greasy.

Chisels:

  • Always wear safety goggles or a face shield when using a chisel.
  • Drive a wood chisel outward and away from your body.
  • Do not use chisels or pry.
  • Keep edges sharp for the most effective work
  • Keep sharp edges protected when not in use.

Make sure that you use hand tools correctly. Remember to inspect them regularly band regularly them immediately if they’re damaged. 

Old Tools Can Be Dangerous
Instead of buying new, good-quality tools, many of us fill our toolboxes with family hand-me-downs or cheap (poorly-made) finds from discount stores. Although secondhand tools might be easier on the budget, they can be hard on safety.
Damaged, worn, or improperly repaired tools can cause serious injuries. Examine all hand or power tools prior to use. Don’t perform makeshift repairs. If the tool is defective, discard it so you or another person won’t be tempted to use it, and perhaps be injured.

These are some problems to look for when using old tools:

  • Flattened or chipped heads on striking tools.
  • Loose or cracked handles.
  • Damaged insulation or wiring
  • Missing guards on power tools

Old tools may not be safe to use if they lack up-to-date safety features, such as a switch that stops the operation when pressure on the switch is released. Read and follow your power tool operator’s manual for tips on proper use, maintenance, and general safety precautions. Don’t forget to use safety eyewear, gloves, and other recommended personal protective equipment for the specific tool.
Never attempt to use an ax with the handle taped on, or a power drill with exposed wires in the cord. Remember that your safety is worth much more than the money you would save by using defective tools.
Think twice before giving away defective tools. The next person who tries to use them may not realize they are unsafe. Don’t pass on a problem that might make you feel partly responsible for an injury or death.

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