Hand Tools - Cutting Tools for Bolts, Cables, and Strapping

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What are some general safety tips to know when using cutting tools?

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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 cut-resistant gloves when using cutters.
  • Choose the proper cutter for the job. Cutters are designed for a specific type, hardness, and size of material.
  • Use a vise, clamp, or another method to hold the material stable while cutting. 
  • Cut materials straight across - keep the material being cut at right angles to the cutting edges of the 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 the cutter and moving parts daily if heavily used.
  • Sharpen jaws according to manufacturers' instructions.
Cutting Tools

What should I avoid doing?

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  • 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 primarily for comfort and do not protect against electric shock.
  • Do not use cutters that 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 the 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 the OSH Answers on General Hand Tool Operation for more tips.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2024-01-16