RMSC Safety Sentinel – July 2017

Safety Sentinel Header APNLHand Tools

Hand tools by definition are not powered by a secondary source. Instead they rely on the force, strength and skill of the user to function properly. Hand tools usually don’ get much consideration on the jobsite, but they should. The potential for injury from commonly used hand tools is always present. A broken tool can certainly prove to be a hazard, but so can using the wrong tool for the job, or failing to recognize the other hazards that can develop while using common hand tools.


There are many potential injuries which are associated with using simple hand tools:

  • Strain, Sprain, Overexertion
  • Hand or Body Injuries
  • Cumulative Trauma Injuries
  • Struck-With or Struck-By Injuries
  • Foreign objects in the Eyes
  • Lacerations and Punctures

Using Hand Tools

Regardless of the type of tool, all hand tools should be inspected before they are used. Even employee-owned tools used on a job site should be inspected before use. Handles should be inspected for cracks. Jaws should be in good shape–not loose, worn, or stripped. Blades should be sharp and in good condition. Striking surfaces should be solid and free of worn edges that could create a flying debris hazard. Damaged, bent, or defective equipment should not be used. Most importantly, the proper tool should be used for its intended purpose. Accordingly, “cheater bars,” extension handles, or other non-approved alterations should never be used. Using screw drivers as chisels or as pry-bars; using wrenches as hammers are common examples of misuse.  Proper use of any hand tool also includes considering the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed while using the tool.  Safety glasses, face shields, work gloves, protective sleeves or a combination thereof are likely needed.


Due consideration should be given to ergonomics or body positioning when using hand tools. The conditions or task to be performed may require the worker to hold the tool in an awkward position.  This may create a hazard in and of itself, or it may make the worker more susceptible to other hazards such as falls potential damage to hands, arms, knees or other body parts. Think “if the tool slips, where will it go?”

Another common problem with the use of hand tools can be repetitive motion issues that can produce cumulative trauma disorders. Many great new tool designs have been developed to reduce these types of injury in the workplace. The type and amount of force required to properly use some of these new more ergonomically designed tools is also considerably less.

Investigating the application of ergonomically designed tools is always advisable when the use of hand tools is frequent and sustained.

RMSC has exercised due and customary care in producing this newsletter but has not independently verified information provided by others. No other warranty, express or implied, is made with regard to the content of this newsletter. Therefore, RMSC assumes no liability from any loss resulting from errors, omissions or misrepresentations made by others. The use of this information by third parties shall be at their own risk and RMSC accepts no duty of care to any such third party.

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