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Hand Tools

Hand tools are non-powered tools. They include axes, wrenches, hammers, chisels, screw drivers, and other hand-operated mechanisms. Even though hand tool injuries tend to be less severe than power tool injuries, hand tool injuries are more common. Because people take everyday hand tools for granted, they forget to follow simple precautions for safety.

The most common hand tool accidents are caused by the following:

  • Failure to use the right tool
  • Failure to use a tool correctly
  • Failure to keep edged tools sharp
  • Failure to replace or repair a defective tool
  • Failure to store tools safely

Use the right tool to complete a job safely, quickly, and efficiently.

Follow these guidelines for general hand tool safety:

  • Wear safety glasses whenever you hammer or cut, especially when working with surfaces that chip or splinter.
  • Do not use a screwdriver as a chisel. The tool can slip and cause a deep puncture wound.
  • Do not use a chisel as a screwdriver. The tip of the chisel may break and cause an injury.
  • Do not use a knife as a screwdriver. The blade can snap and injure an eye.
  • Never carry a screwdriver or chisel in your pocket. If you fall, the tool could cause a serious injury. Instead, use a tool belt holder.
  • Replace loose, splintered, or cracked handles. Loose hammer, axe, or maul heads can fly off defective handles.
  • Use the proper wrench to tighten or loosen nuts. Pliers can chew the corners off a nut.
  • When using a chisel, always chip or cut away from you. Use a soft-headed hammer or mallet to strike a wooden chisel handle. A metal hammer or mallet may cause the handle to split.
  • Do not use a wrench if the jaws are sprung.
  • Do not use impact tools, such as chisels, wedges, or drift pins, if their heads are mushroom shaped. The heads may shatter upon impact.
  • Direct saw blades, knives, and other tools away from aisle areas and other employees.
  • Keep knives and scissors sharp. Dull tools are more dangerous than sharp tools.
  • Iron or steel hand tools may cause sparks and be hazardous around flammable substances. Use spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood when working around flammable hazards.

Improper tool storage is responsible for many shop accidents. Follow these guidelines to ensure proper tool storage:

  • Have a specific place for each tool.
  • Do not place unguarded cutting tools in a drawer. Many hand injuries are caused by rummaging through drawers that contain a jumbled assortment of sharp-edged tools.
  • Store knives or chisels in their scabbards.
  • Hang saws with the blades away from someone's reach.
  • Provide sturdy hooks to hang most tools on.
  • Rack heavy tools, such as axes and sledges, with the heavy end down.

May 2011
Reviewed November 2014