Handtools are very common parts of our lives. We use them anywhere and everywhere but they can be dangerous if not used correctly.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there were 101,095 nonpower and 28,304 power hand tool injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains, strains, and inflamed joints were reported in 24 percent of cases.
Lots of potential to cause injuries exists around tools. If you don’t pay attention to them, bad things can happen to you.
Along with common injuries such as cuts, lacerations, and bruises, hand tools can also cause soreness, aches, pains, and fatigue. It can also lead to chronic musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) of various kinds when ignored.
Therefore, it is important to have all the knowledge on handtool safety and identify all the potential hazards to be always careful and aware of while using tools or when you are around tools.
So in this article, we will discuss all the basic safety rules while working with handtools to help you identify and eliminate hazards.
Top Causes Of Handtools Accidents
Many of us take for granted and think that tools like hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers are ordinary tools and that only power tools can cause injuries.
But the fact is that over 100,000 people visit emergency rooms each year due to injuries incurred while using hand tools.
Let us have a look into the top causes of accidents caused by using handtools so that next time
1. Absent Minded
The major cause of accidents while using hand tools is distraction. Most people tend to pay less attention to the job they are doing.
You lose focus and do not pay close attention to the job that you are doing. This can cause injuries both minor and severe at any time.
Therefore, it is always important to pay close attention to the job you are doing reminding yourself that you can take things for granted.
2. Being In a Hurry
When you try to do any work while in a hurry, taking shortcuts, you are bound to be in a trouble. The same is the case with hand tools.
Accidents can happen anytime to anybody and anywhere and there are many factors behind it. But, the most common and likely causes of accidents is our impatience and hurry.
When we are in a hurry, our movements are affected and our concentration and focus is disturbed and then we commit some error or mistake and in no time there is some incident or accident for which there is no undo button with us.
Always try to keep yourself calm while working and take breaks in between.
3. Not Using Personal Protective Equipment
All of us know the importance of Personal Protective Equipments while at work. But still there are many who would rather gamble with their safety.
Refusal to wear PPE or neglecting safety gear can be catastrophic.
Most Common Injuries From Handtools
Let us have a look at the most common injuries that arises due to negligence so that the next time you pull out your toolbox, you can remind yourself of common-sense safety measures
1. Eye Injuries
Many people suffer from eye injuries caused by flying wooden chips or metal shards. This can injure your eyes and even cause permanent blindness.
Therefore, if you don’t want any eye injuries, always wear eye protection while using a manual tool.
2. Musculoskeletal Injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries refers to damage of muscular or skeletal systems which usually occurs due to strenuous activities affecting bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues.
This type of injury can occur in any part of your body when you repeatedly perform strenuous work using heavy tools.
3. Broken bones, Bruises, and cuts
Cuts and bruises are the most common injuries that must have happened to anybody working with tools. This can be avoided by wearing gloves.
But if you are not careful enough, you may also end up breaking your bones. A moment of distraction can lead to broken bones.
Hence you must always remain careful and attentive while working with tools.
4. Repetitive Motion Injuries
Human muscles and ligaments can become stressed if they are used in the same way, with the same tool, day in and day out.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (inflammation of the nerve sheath in the wrist) is very commonly caused due to improper use of tools or using the wrong tool.
Working with vibrating tools requires prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist may create harmful pressure causing numbness.
Basic Safety Rules While Working With Handtools
Causes of handtool injuries can be often traced back to improper use or maintenance of the handtools.
We’ve created a list based on our own observations and extensive research to assist you to know what to watch out for.
1. Use The Right Tool For The Right Job
The first safety rule that you can never ignore is using the right tool for the right job. Using the right tool is the topmost priority and is very important to keep yourself and everyone around you.
Every tool is designed for a specific job and should be only used for that job. Never try to use your wrench as a hammer or a screwdriver as a chisel.
Before starting any work, always make sure to get the right tool in the right size for the job.
2. Use Tools The Right Way
After choosing the right tool for your job, you must also know how to use your tool the right way. A little knowledge of each tool will help.
Many a time, accidents do occur because you do not know how to properly use the tool. Never try to use a tool if you are new to the tool.
Give a little time to know about the tool and learn how to use it the right way.
3. Keep Tools In Good Working Condition
It is very important to keep your tools in good working conditions but if a tool fails it can definitely lead to a major injury. Take care of your tools and your tools will take care of you.
Never use broken or damaged tools, dull cutting tools, or screwdrivers with worn tips. Keep your tools sharpened because a dull blade or blunt point can lead to injury.
Ensure wooden handles are not cracked, loose, or splintered. Wrenches jaws are not sprung, and chisels and wedges do not have mushroomed heads.
The head of an axe or hammer with a loose, cracked, or splintered handle can fly off and hit you or someone else, causing severe injury. Always inspect your hand tools to check their condition before use.
4. Proper Storage
It is very important to store tools in a organized way so that when searching for your tool, you exactly know where to find them.
This saves time and reduces unnecessary tension thus reducing the chance of being in a hurry which in turn reduces the risk of injury from tools.
Tools can pose a safety risk when they are misplaced or mishandled by workers requiring you to invest in proper tool storage.
There are so many tool storage ideas available online. You can choose one for yourself as per your needs and availabilty.
5. Cut In Direction Away From Your Body
The most common concern when working with cutting tools is an injury such as cut (laceration, puncture) or an amputaion.
To reduce the risk of injury, always cut away from your body. Make sure no body parts are in the cutting path, or in the path the blade might take if it slips.
6. Use The Right Personal Protective Equipment
There is a wide variety of hand and power tools available that allows us to do our work more easily. However, a little mistake can cause injury.
Therefore when working with tools, it is essential to wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep yourself safe from potential hazards.
PPEs should be chosen according to the type of work you are doing and the chosen PPEs should be as per OSHA standards.
Personal Protective Equipment You Must Use While Working With Handtools
Depending upon the circumstances and the potential hazards, you are required to use PPEs according to the hazards.
But apart from that, we are listing out the PPEs that you cannot skip no matter whatever tools you are using or whatever work you are doing.
1. Protective Gloves
It doesn’t matter what tool you are using or whatever work you are doing, the first and foremost thing you need to do is wear your gloves even before you start your work.
Most of the tools that we use have sharpened edges which can easily bruise your hand and there are plenty of cases of accidentally injuring yourself while you are working.
Although gloves cannot fully eliminate the risk of getting injuries, they can reduce the chances that it will happen.
Gloves also do provide a better grip on your hands so that your tool doesn’t slip off your hand while working.
According to reports, over 70% of eye injuries caused while working with hand tools are a result of flying objects hitting the eye.
Safety glasses can be the best defense against these injuries. Not only do they protect our eyes from injuries, but they also have a huge impact on the long-term health of your eyes.
3. Safety Boots
The risk to the foot and toes while working can occur frequently. In many workplaces, severe concerns include cuts and punctures from rolling and falling objects.
Imagine working with a hammer and it slips and falls on your feet. You could end up breaking your bones. Safety shoes help in protecting feet reducing the severity of injuries that may happen.
The right safety footwear can reduce workplace incidents that are avoidable. It is a quick and easy way to take precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy.
4. Hearing Protection
According to a survey by CDC, every year around 22 million workers come in contact with loud noise and nearly half of all construction workers have hearing loss.
The louder the noise is and the longer you listen to it the more it can damage your hearing. Therefore, it is very important to protect your ears when working with noisy tools.
When working with tools like an electric drill, chain saw, or lawn mower, make sure to have your ears covered with good quality sound proof ear muffs.
Working on DIYs can be fun. Many of us these days are curious enough to try doing things ourselves by watching DIY tutorials.
This can be great fun until you injure yourself. Therefore, when working with tools you must take proper safety measures.
Before using your tools or beginning any new projects, be sure you have the proper tools, are in the proper setting, and have considered any potential hazards.
We hope that our detailed and informative guide has helped you gain knowledge on basic safety rules when working with hand tools and the measures to should take to avoid accidents.
However, if you have any questions related to the topic, please leave a message in the comments below.
FAQ: Basic Safety Rules While Working With Handtools
Everyone wants to remain safe and protected when working with tools. However, many are unaware of the basic safety rules. That’s why a lot of people ask questions. Here i have tried answering some of them.
Q1. At What Sound Levels Do We Need A Hearing Protection?
Ans: According to OSHA, if the sound level is above 85 decibels we need hearing protection with an exposure limit of 8 hours. But if the sound level is above 100 decibels, exposure of more than 15 minutes can lead to hearing loss.
Q2. Can PPE Save Your Life?
Ans: A minor injury can lead to fatality. PPE protects you from all those minor injuries that might happen. They are worn to minimize the risks and are designed to protect your vulnerable areas like hands, feet, eyes, and nose.