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Hand Tool Safety

Despite the advent of power tools that do everything from drilling holes to driving nails, conventional hand tools are still strong sellers. You may have some in your house, and you might assume they're much safer than using the electric version.

But don't get overconfident. While hand tools don't pose the same lethal threat as some power tools, they are still a factor in a number of accidents each year.

Here are some guidelines for safe use of simple tools:

  • Always wear safety goggles. Your eyes are the most vulnerable part of your body when working with tools.

  • Dress for safety. Even the most cautious craftsperson or home handyman has to be prepared for the unexpected. When working with tools and building materials, you should make sure to wear long sleeves, work gloves, and full-legged canvas trousers or heavy blue jeans.

  • Always pull, rather than push, a wrench for greater control and balance. That way, if the nut or bolt should suddenly loosen, you're less likely to lose balance and control.

  • Never try to get more torque from a wrench by using a cheater bar or other device to extend the leverage. It could slip off suddenly, causing you to lose balance and control.

  • Handsaws become dangerous when a user pushes down on the top edge in an effort to free a saw that gets stuck while cutting wood. Do not touch the actual blade. It can be hot from the friction of sawing, and even the nonjagged edge is dangerous.

  • A screwdriver should fit snugly into the slot of a screw without hanging over the edge. If, after applying reasonable pressure to loosen a screw, it still won’t turn, try using a different-sized screwdriver. Applying too much force can strip the screw or cause the screwdriver to slip, marring the work surface or, worse yet, puncturing a palm.

  • Do your work on a solid surface, such as a workbench. Holding a toaster in your lap and driving a screwdriver down toward your thigh is just asking to get stabbed.

  • A common mistake is using a screwdriver as a prying instrument for everything from opening a paint can to taking down a wall. If excessive pressure is applied to a screwdriver that does not have the steel shank running through the entire handle, you will be applying pressure to the weaker handle as well as the shank and the handle could crack into pieces.

  • Another no-no—using a screwdriver as a chisel. The metal blade can separate from the shank or the blade could crack into two jagged pieces that go flying.

  • Pliers can hold a nut or bolt in place, but use a wrench to make them tight or loose. Pliers tend to slip off suddenly.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Susan K. Dempsey-Walls RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2024
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