Reduce Hand Tool Injuries in Your Facility

OSHA addresses hand tool hazards in the workplace under 29 CFR 1910, Subpart P — and for good reason. There is a common misconception that hand tools rarely lead to serious workplace injuries, which is false. Just consider statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reveal that cuts, lacerations and puncture wounds — all injuries commonly associated with hand tool use — accounted for 14,960 of the lost work-time cases in manufacturing during 2017.

 

Employers are responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment used by employees, which includes tools and equipment that employees may furnish themselves. This is the gist of OSHA’s general hand tool requirement. It applies to tools such as knives, axes, paper cutters, shovels, hammers, chisels, etc.

 

Tool Safety Basics to Share with Workers

 To ensure your employees avoid accidents when working with hand tools, the following points should be covered during training:  

  • Always keep tools in good condition with regular maintenance. Dirty tools can be more difficult to use.
  • Use the right tool for the job and use it properly. Never use a hand tool for something it was not designed to do.
  • Inspect each tool for damage before using it and never use a damaged tool. If tools are properly maintained, inspecting them shouldn’t take long at all. However, do not assume that all tools are in good condition.
  • Operate tools according to manufacturer’s instructions. When using a tool you’ve never used before, review the instructions. This is the best source of information. If the instructions are not available, talk to a co-worker who uses the tool frequently or ask your supervisor for help. Also, find out exactly what types of safety precautions are built into the device and test them to make sure they are operating correctly.
  • Use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Gloves and safety glasses or goggles are almost always necessary, although many tools will require additional PPE. Keep in mind that PPE must also be inspected prior to use to ensure it’s in good condition. Damaged or poor-fitting PPE is more likely to contribute to injuries rather than help to prevent them.
  • Make sure you have selected the right size hand tool for the job. You want a secure fit between the tool and the material. A screwdriver that is too big for a particular screw can slip off the screw head, resulting in a nasty puncture wound.

Give your workers the information and instruction they need to perform their jobs safely with Clement's Safe Procedures Posters.