Hand tools are crucial to the success of any project – and with a wide selection of hand tools available, finding the best tool for the job can be a simple process.
However, neglecting to maintain your tools, or misusing them, poses serious health and safety problems.
Unfortunately for people who use their tools day in and day out, it becomes all too easy to work on auto-pilot mode, ignoring basic safety practices and becoming casual with the way these tools are handled.
Proper tool inspection, use and maintenance will ensure your safety and assist you in completing your job on schedule. We’ve outlined some hand tool safety tips for you to keep in mind before, during and after your project.
Safety Tips Before Starting the Project
There are some important steps to take before beginning every project. Selecting the best tool, performing an inspection and preparing your workspace will help you to work safely and efficiently.
- Consider the shape, size and handle of the tool. You should only use tools that are properly sized for the job and space you’re in. Close quarters with several other workers requires not only smaller hand tools, but also ones with better safety features.
- Inspect the tool for any defects. This might include an ill-fitted handle, a chipped hammer head, a worn screwdriver tip, mushroomed chisels and more. If a damaged tool can not be fixed by a professional, it will need to be replaced to prevent future injury. A damaged tool might cause broken pieces of tool to chip, fly off the handle and shatter, among other concerns – potentially causing injury to you and any other colleagues present.
- Ensure the tool is comfortable to hold and operate. A tool should maintain wrist stability and not require you to engage in any straining postures. Your tool should require minimal force to complete a task and should be easy to grip and use.
Lastly, before beginning your project, ensure you are equipped with the required tools and that your workspace is clean and cleared of debris.
Following these simple practices will help prevent damage to the tool and mitigate the risk of injury.
Safety Tips During the Project
Once you are ready to begin your project, there are some important safety tips to keep in mind.
- Only use hand tools for what they were designed to do. While many guys on the job will improve a wrench as a hammer or a screwdriver as a pry bar when they’re in a pinch, this will ultimately put you, your project, and your team at risk.
- Ensure you are wearing all required protective equipment such as gloves, boots, hats and goggles. Not doing this will not only put you at risk for injury, but you could face a hefty fine if your site’s safety supervisor sees you without these them. In addition, all equipment should be well-fitted. Using a hand tool with an oversized glove, for example, could put you at risk for injury.
- If you are moving hand tools to and from a worksite, ensure you have invested in a high quality, durable tool box. While on the job, store your hand tools in a secure, well-kept belt. Your tool belt is one of those things that can diminish in quality over time without realizing it. A small hole or a few loose stitches can quickly turn into the inability to properly hold your tools. If you are carrying any sharp tools, ensure they are stored in a sheath or holster and not on your workbench to be dropped or otherwise misused.
Additionally, while working on a ladder or at height, hand tools should be hoisted up and down using a bucket or bag. This prevents tools from slipping or falling, and also ensures you are able to work without the weight of a belt.
Safety Tips Once the Project is Complete
Upon completing your project, there are still some important safety procedures to keep in mind.
- Ensure you are properly maintaining and storing your hand tools to prevent further damage.
- Cover any sharp edges of your hand tools and replace any tools that have been damaged. It’s important to note that even a small crack in a handle is due for replacement.
- When storing tools, point sharp tools away from the aisles and ensure no tools hang over the edge of storage or work benches.
- Tools should be cleaned regularly and kept in a clean, dry place. Any tools that have been damaged should be tagged so that you or a colleague does not use them.
- When storing your hand tools, ensure any storage cabinets or boxes with wheels are locked and stored.
Using the above safety tips before, during and after your next project will ensure that you are able to get the most out of your hand tools. Taking the proper precautions before beginning a project, ensuring you adhere to safety practices while working and properly cleaning and maintaining your tools will ensure you are able to complete any project efficiently and successfully.