Hand Tools - General Hand Tool Operation

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What are some basic tips when using hand tools?

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  • Make sure that employees are properly trained in the safe use of hand tools.
  • Always provide training on how to choose the right tool for the job, how to correctly use each tool, and how to identify when tools need repair.
  • Select the right tool for the job. Substitutes increase the chance of having an accident.
  • Use tools designed to allow the wrist to stay straight. Avoid using hand tools with your wrist bent.
  • Use good quality tools.
  • Keep tools in good condition at all times.
  • Inspect tools for defects before use. Replace or repair defective tools.
  • Keep cutting tools sharp and cover sharp edges with a suitable covering to protect the tool and to prevent injuries from unintended contact.
  • Replace cracked, splintered, or broken handles on files, hammers, screwdrivers, or sledges.
  • Make sure that the handles of tools like hammers and axes fit tightly into the head of the tool.
  • Replace worn jaws on wrenches, pipe tools and pliers.
  • Redress burred or mushroomed heads of striking tools.
  • Pull on a wrench or pliers. Never push unless you hold the tool with your palm open.
  • Point sharp tools (e.g., saws, chisels, knives) laying on benches away from aisles, and handles should not extend over the edge of the bench top.
  • Maintain tools carefully. Keep them clean and dry, and store them properly after each use.
  • Carry tools in a sturdy toolbox to and from the worksite.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles) and well-fitting gloves appropriate for the hazards to which you may be exposed when doing various tasks.
  • Keep the work environment clean and tidy to avoid clutter, which may cause incidents.
  • Use a heavy belt or apron and hang tools pointed down at your sides, not behind your back.
  • Keep the work space tidy. Store tools properly when not in use.  
Proper way to wear tools

What should I avoid when using hand tools?

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  • Do not use tools for jobs they are not intended to do. For example, do not use a slot screwdriver as a chisel, pry bar, wedge or punch, or wrenches as hammers.
  • Do not apply excessive force or pressure on tools.
  • Do not cut towards yourself when using cutting tools.
  • Do not hold the stock in the palm of your hand when using a cutting tool or a screwdriver. Always lay it on a workbench or in a vice.
  • Do not wear bulky gloves to operate hand tools.
  • Do not throw tools. Hand them, handle first, directly to other workers.
  • Do not carry tools in a way that interferes with using both hands on a ladder, while climbing on a structure, or when doing any hazardous work. If working on a ladder or scaffold, tools should be raised and lowered using a bucket and hand line.
  • Do not carry a sharp tool in your pocket.
  • Do not use tools during electrical work unless they are designed for electrical work (e.g., properly insulated).
  • Do not leave tools lying around on elevated structures such as a platform or scaffold, as they may be bumped and fall.

  • Fact sheet confirmed current: 2023-12-14
  • Fact sheet last revised: 2017-08-01