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5 Basic Safety Rules for Hand Tools

Hand tools are such a common part of our daily work lives that it is sometimes difficult to remember that they may pose hazards while in use. Serious incidents can occur before steps are taken to identify, avoid and eliminate tool-related hazards.

Hand toolsHand tools include screwdriver, wrenches, hammers, axes – basically, any tool that is powered manually, and is not powered in some manner with electricity or an internal combustion engine.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are five basic safety rules that can help prevent hazards when using hand tools:

  • Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
  • Use the right tool for the job.
  • Examine each tool for damage before use and do not use damaged tools.
  • Operate tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Provide and use properly the right personal protective equipment.

The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from improper maintenance and misuse. For example:

  • If a chisel is used as a screwdriver, the tip of the chisel may break and fly off, hitting the user or other employees.
  • If a wooden handle on a tool, such as a hammer or an axe, is loose, splintered, or cracked, the head of the tool may fly off and strike the user or other employees.
  • If the jaws of a wrench are sprung, the wrench might slip.
  • If impact tools such as chisels, wedges, or drift pins have mushroomed heads, the heads might shatter on impact, sending sharp fragments flying toward the user or other employees.

When using saw blades, knives or other tools, be aware of the area around you and direct the tools away from aisle areas and away from other employees who are working nearby. Knives and scissors must be sharp. Dull tools can cause more hazards than sharp ones because of the extra force exerted to use the tools and the possibility of the tools slipping and stabbing while overused. Cracked saw blades must be removed from service.

Iron or steel hand tools may produce sparks that can be an ignition source around flammable substances. Where this hazard exists, spark-resistant tools made of non-ferrous materials should be used where flammable gases, highly volatile liquids, and other explosive substances are stored or used.

Additionally, leaving hand tools on the ground or on a cutting area after use poses a hazard for co-workers who step on, trip over or brush against the tool. To protect co-workers, pick up and store tools as well as any debris resulting from the use of the tools after you have completed your task.

These are but a few of the recommendations for safely using hand tools. For more information, bring up proper use of hand tools during safety meetings or toolbox talks.

Although Neff Rental provides customers with large earth moving, aerial and material handling equipment, our employees service the equipment with hand tools. They take precautions when using hand tools, and discard any tools that are not fit for use.

For more information about Neff Rental, visit, or contact a local branch by calling 888-709-NEFF.

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