Hand tools are a common part of daily life, whether you’re a mechanic, an electrician or you own your own home. Still, many people overlook the potential risk of injury associated with using tools. If they are handled properly, you can end up hurting yourself or someone near you. Along with using tools properly, they must be put away and maintained the right way to make sure they perform well every time. Whether you’re using industrial tools or basic hand tools around the home, make sure you follow these important hand tool safety tips to keep yourself safe.
Hand Tool Safety Tips:
1. Know What the Tool is For
One of the major hand tool safety rule is that you must know the tool that you are operating. It may not seem like a big deal to use hand tools for an unintended purpose, although this can cause damage to the tool or result in injury. Only use tools for their intended purpose. If you use a flat-head screwdriver to screw in a Phillips head screw, for example, the tool can slip and cause you to hurt yourself. Consider the many types of pliers as well. Cutting pliers are made to cut wire but they should not be used to hammer a nail into drywall, which can easily bend the pliers. Locking pliers offer great grip over small objects but they shouldn’t be used to turn a screw like a screwdriver.
2. Inspect Tools for Damage
You should also check your hand tools for damage before each use. Tools get damaged through normal use so you’ll want to make sure the points on your screwdrivers are still sharp and intact, for instance. With circular saw, you’ll want to check that the blades are still sharp and don’t need to be replaced. Never use tools that have a dull blade or cracked handles. If you go with inexpensive hand tools, damage will be very common. This is one reason it’s important to choose high quality tool sets to lower the risk of damage and injury. Follow this hand tool safety rule to avoid any unnecessary injuries or damages to your equipment.
3. Carry Tools the Right Way
Never put sharp hand tools in your pocket, even if you think you’ll be okay. These tools can easily stab you if you fall while you’re climbing a ladder, trip or bend over. Hold the sharp end of the tool so it’s pointed away from you when you carry it. If you’ll be using the tools for work, invest in a good tool belt to carry screwdrivers, wrenches, a hammer and parts.
4. Use Protective Equipment
You’ll want to wear appropriate safety equipment for every job. Safety glasses and gloves are the most basic pieces of safety equipment you’ll want, but you may also want protective clothing, shoes, a hard hat, a face shield, respirator and ear plugs depending on the work environment.
5. Check the Durability of Your Tools
Before you use old tools, make sure they haven’t become fragile from age. Do your best to make sure your tools are still durable before you put them to use. Some types of hammers, for example, can shatter if they’re very old. This is a very dangerous situation as you’ll have particles flying toward your face.
6. Take Care of Insulated Hand Tools
Insulated hand tools require extra care for safety reasons. These tools have a special coating that keeps you safe from electric shock. They must always be put away clean and dry to maintain this coating. Always inspect the coating on insulated tools before you use them to make sure it’s intact. Only use insulated tools for jobs that put you at risk of shock; an insulated screwdriver shouldn’t be used to assemble furniture.
7. Clean Your Tools Regularly
Hand tools must be cleaned before and after use because dirty tools will not operate safely and may slip during use. If your tools have a blade, apply a light coating of oil to keep the edges from rusting. Keep your tools stored in a safe, dry place like a toolbox or tool cabinet.
8. Sharpen Tools Carefully
If you’re going to sharpen dull tools, make sure you do it the right way. Always wear protective eye wear and gloves and leave the job to a professional if you don’t know what you are doing. The integrity of many tools, such as chisel sets, can be harmed if the steel is allowed to get too hot. Using too much pressure can also cause dents in the metal that eventually lead the tool to breaking down on you. Most small hand tools can be sharpened yourself but leave expensive or large tools to a professional.