Hand Tool Safety in the Workplace
Using hand tools in the workplace is unavoidable but also dangerous. Knowing all of the proper safety procedures when using these tools is imperative.
Accidents in the workplace account for over a million injuries and over a billion dollars annually and a huge percentage of those accidents involve hand tools. Hand tools are such an integral part of our daily work that we can sometimes forget about safety and this can be dangerous - screwdrivers alone account for tens of thousands of workplace accidents every year. This article focuses on common hand tools.
The first step is a safety plan. Assemble all of the tools you will need before starting the job, so you won't have to reach awkwardly or leave your workspace. Make sure that you know how to use every tool and that you have examined your work area for general hazards. Lastly, use the appropriate personal protective equipment and make sure you are not distracted,
Cutting tools are probably the most dangerous hand tool and knives in particular cause the most injuries of any hand tool. Make sure you keep you knives and other cutting tools sharpened, make sure the blade is attached securely and make you use a knife with a retractable blade whenever possible. When you cut keep the sharp edge away from your body and when you are cutting sharp objects like wire don't cut them at an angle to avoid getting cut by the object. When storing your knife, keep it away from other tools.
Hammers, chisels and punches are also extremely dangerous. Most of these accidents occur because of flying particles. Personal protective equipment is especially important when working with these types of tools - always wear goggles or other eye wear. Using the appropriate tool for the job is imperative. A Nail Hammer for unhardened nails and a Ball Peen Hammers are used with chisels, punches, masonry and metal. When using a Nail Hammer make sure you "seat" the nail by tapping it into place and then removing your hand from the striking area. When using a Ball Peen Hammer, make sure the head is larger than your chisel or punch.
Screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers are used for jobs that need special positioning or force. Always proceed cautiously and never over-force screws or bolts. Just like with nails, "seat" the screw before beginning and keep your hand away from the screw. Make sure the blade of the screwdriver fits the screw correctly - too large or too small will cause injury. Be careful not to let your wrenches or pliers slip. This is where most of the injuries occur. Adjustable wrenches should only be used for small jobs, a socket or box wrench works much better when a lot of force is needed.
Hand and power tool injuries are all too common in the workplace, but with a little safety and planning they can be avoided. Make sure that all your employees are properly trained on their use and you will decrease injury and increase productivity in your workplace.
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