OSH Answers Fact Sheets
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What are some general safety tips to know when using cutting tools?
Many types and sizes of cutters are used for cutting selected metal products made from iron, steel, or softer, non-ferrous materials (e.g., copper, brass, aluminum). Cutters are designed to cut materials of different kinds of products such as wires, cables (electrical, coax, multi-strand), wire ropes, fencing, bolts, rods, pre-stressed concrete wires, and strapping.
- Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles) and protective gloves when using cutters.
- Choose the proper cutter for the job. Cutters are designed for a specific type, hardness, and size of material.
- Cut materials straight across - keep the material being cut at right angles to the cutting edges of jaws.
- Prevent injury from flying metal by wrapping a burlap bag, cloth or rag around the cutting jaws. Metal can fly when cut. The harder the metal, the farther it will fly.
- Warn those in the area to take precautionary measures to avoid possible injury from flying metal pieces.
- Keep cutting tools in good repair.
- Adjust and lubricate cutter and moving parts daily if heavily used.
- Sharpen jaws according to manufacturers' instructions.
What should I avoid doing?
- Do not use a cutting tool until you are trained in its proper and safe use.
- Do not use cushion grip handles for jobs requiring insulated handles. Cushion grips are for comfort primarily and do not protect against electric shock.
- Do not use cutters which are cracked, broken or loose.
- Do not exceed the recommended capacity of a tool.
- Do not cut diagonally.
- Do not rock cutters from side to side when cutting wire.
- Do not pry or twist with tool when cutting.
- Do not hammer on cutting tools or extend the handle length to achieve greater cutting power.
- Do not expose cutters to excessive heat.
- Do not repair cutters. Discard equipment that is cracked, broken or shows signs of damage.
Refer to OSH Answers General Hand Tool Operation for more tips.
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