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Hand Tool Safety

Hand tools are powered manually. Examples include hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and chisels.

Workers are generally injured by hand tools when they are misused or not maintained properly.

For example, if impact tools such as chisels have mushroomed heads, the head can shatter on impact, sending sharp fragments flying toward the user or other employees in the immediate area. Flying fragments can become embedded in the eyes and skin easily.

Always wear appropriate eye and face protection when using hand tools.

Always inspect hand tools prior to use. If a tool shows evidence of damage, remove the tool from service and place a "Do Not Use" tag on the tool until repaired or disposed of.

When using saw blades, knives, or other tools, always direct the tool away from workers in close proximity.

In addition, make sure that:

Knives and scissors are sharp.

Wrenches do not have sprung jaws that can cause slippage.

Impact tools, such as chisels, do not have mushroomed heads.

Wooden tool handles are not splintered.

Iron or steel hand tools also can produce sparks that can be an ignition source around flammable or combustible substances.

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.


Mushroomed head on chisel.

Source: OSHA Hand and Power Tool Safety, 2002, retrieved from

Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;

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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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