Knowing how to choose the correct tool for the job reduces the risk of injuries in the workplace. Screwdrivers, hammers, and pliers are commonly used tools that if used incorrectly, may result in serious workplace injuries.
Common causes of hand tool injuries may include cuts, punctures, amputations, repetitive strain injuries, and other injuries that may occur if hand tools are used improperly, or due to a lack of training and experience.
Regardless of the work you are doing, it is necessary to always select the proper hand tool to work more effectively, but more importantly, to avoid errors and injury.
It important to use tools for their intended purpose. For example, workers should not be using pliers as wrenches or wrenches as hammers. Whenever possible, don’t expose tools to extremes of heat and cold as metal will lose its temper and become brittle. It is also important to remember not to extend the handles of tools with sleeves or cheater bars for more leverage and power. Workers will often confuse cushion grips with insulated handles, which may result in injury and discomfort. It is important to note that cushion grips are for comfort only while insulated handles are solely for electrical shock protection. Lastly, remember to not hammer on the handles of wrenches or pliers to gain more force. The tool could bend, break, or fly off and hit you or another worker.
When using pliers remember to:
- Use pliers with enough space between the handles to keep palm and fingers from being pinched.
- Pull on pliers, do not push.
- Oil regularly. About a drop of oil on the hinge should suffice.
- Use pliers that are big enough to do the job with reasonable effort.
- Don’t use pliers to turn nuts and bolts. The jaws can slip and damage corners and edges of nuts and bolt heads.
When using wrenches remember to:
- Replace damaged wrenches. Straightening a bent wrench only weakens it.
- Pull on a wrench, do not push.
- Be prepared in case the wrench slips. Make sure your footing is solid; your stance is balanced, and your hands are clear.
- With adjustable wrenches, put pressure on the permanent jaw, not the movable jaw.
- Use the right wrench for the job. Do not use pipe wrenches on nuts or bolts. Do not use adjustable wrenches on pipe.
- On adjustable wrenches, inspect the knurl, jaw, and pin for wear.
When using screwdrivers to:
- Use the right screwdriver for the job.
- Drill a pilot hole before driving a screw into wood.
- Make sure that the screwdriver handle is intact, free of splits or cracks, and clean of grease and oil.
- You should only need enough force to keep the screwdriver in contact with the screw. With a properly sized and drilled hole, the screw will draw itself into the material with minimum pressure and guidance.
- Do not hold the material in one hand and use the screwdriver with the other. The screwdriver can slip and cut your hand.
- Discard screwdrivers with chipped handles, bent shanks, and twisted or excessively rounded tips.
- Do not use bench grinders to restore tips. The excessive heat can destroy temper and reduce the hardness of shank and tip. Filing should be done by hand.
- Use screwdrivers with large handles for better grip.
- Do not use pliers on the handle of a screwdriver for more power. To remove stubborn screws, use a screwdriver with a square shank designed for use with a wrench.
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