OSH Answers Fact Sheets
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What are some safety tips for using pipe wrenches?
Pipe tools are made in various shapes and sizes and for many uses. Always use the correct tool for the job.
- Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles), when necessary.
- Select a pipe wrench with sufficient capacity and leverage to do the job.
- Use a pipe wrench to turn or hold a pipe. Never use a pipe wrench to bend, raise or lift a pipe.
- Adjust the pipe wrench grip to maintain a gap between the back of the hook jaw and the pipe. This concentrates the pressure at the jaw teeth, producing the maximum gripping force. It also aids the ratcheting action.
- Inspect pipe wrenches periodically for worn or unsafe parts and replace them (e.g., check for worn threads on the adjustment ring and movable jaw).
- Keep pipe wrench teeth clean and sharp.
- Face a pipe wrench forward. Turn wrench so pressure is against heel jaw.
- Pull, rather than push on the pipe wrench handle. Maintain a proper stance with feet firmly placed to hold your balance.
What are some things I should avoid doing when using pipe wrenches?
- Do not use a pipe wrench as a hammer, or strike a pipe wrench with a hammer.
- Do not use pipe wrenches on nuts and bolts.
- Do not use a pipe extender for extra leverage. Get a larger pipe wrench.
What are some safety tips for using pipe cutters, reamers, threaders?
- Replace pipe cutter wheels which are nicked or otherwise damaged.
- Use a 3- or 4-wheeled cutter, if there is not enough space to swing the single wheel pipe cutter completely around the pipe.
- Choose a cutting wheel suitable for cutting the type of pipe material required:
- Thin wheel for cutting ordinary steel pipe.
- Stout wheel for cutting cast iron.
- Other wheels for cutting stainless steel, plastic and other materials.
- Select the proper hole diameter and correct tap size to tap a hole. The hole should be sized so that the thread cut by the tap will be about 75% as deep as the thread on the tap.
- Use a proper tap wrench (with a "T" handle) for turning a tap.
- Use lubricant or machine cutting fluid with metals other than cast iron.
What are some things I should avoid doing when using pipe tools?
- Do not allow chips to clog the flutes (groves in the tap that allow metal chips to escape from the hole). The chips may prevent the tap from turning - this may result in the tap breaking if you continue to apply pressure.
- Do not use a conventional adjustable wrench for turning a tap - it will cause uneven pressure on the tap that may cause it to break.
- Do not attempt to thread hardened steel. This can chip or damage the die.
- Do not thread any rod or other cylindrical object that is larger in diameter than the major diameter of the die thread.
- Do not use a spiral reamer on a rotating pipe. The reamer may snag and cause serious injury.
Refer to OSH Answers General Hand Tool Operation for more tips.
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