Hand tool safety

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Large numbers of injuries are caused by hand tools so hand tool safety is the most important. The main causes for these accidents are the use of unsuitable or damaged tools, misuse, and improper maintenance. Some examples are given below:

  • Using a screwdriver as a chisel may cause the tip of the screwdriver to break and fly, hitting the user or other employees.
  • If a wooden handle on a tool such as a hammer or an axe is loose, splintered, or cracked, the head of the tool may fly off and strike the user or another worker.
  • A wrench must not be used if its jaws are sprung, because it might slip.
  • Impact tools such as chisels, wedges, or drift pins are unsafe if they have mushroomed heads. The heads might shatter on impact, sending sharp fragments flying.

General hand tool safety tips

  1. Hand tools for factory use shall be of material of good quality and appropriate for the work for which they will be used.
  2. Hand tools should be used only for the specific purposes for which they are designed. (Right tool for the job).
  3. Wooden handles of hand tools shall be best quality straight grained material.
  4. Wooden handles of hand tools shall be suitable shape and size.
  5. Wooden handles of hand tools shall be Smooth, without splinters or sharp edges.
  6. Floors should be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent accidental slips with or around dangerous hand tools.
  7. Where there is any risk of an explosive atmosphere being ignited by sparks, any hand tools used therein shall be of non-sparking type.
  8. Heads of shock tools should be dressed or ground to a suitable radius on the edge as soon as they begin to mushroom or crack.
  9. Hammers and sledges, cold chisels, cutters, punches and other similar shock tools should be made of carefully selected steel, hard enough to withstand blows without mushrooming extensively but not so hard as to chip or break.
  10. Hand tools should be tempered, dressed and repaired only by properly qualified person.
  11. When not in use, sharp edged or sharp pointed hand tools shall be protected with protection for the edges or points.
  12. Hand tools should not be allowed to lie on floors, passage ways, stair ways, or in places where persons have to work or pass, or on elevations from which they may fall on persons below.
  13. Suitable and conveniently located cabinets, holders or shelves shall be provided at benches or machines for hand tools.
  14. Hand safety tools should be issued through a tool room, in which they are stored safely on racks or shelves in cabinets or tool boxes.
  15. Hand tools and power tools should be inspected periodically by competent persons.
  16. Hand tools should be replaced or repaired when found defective.
  17. Workers should be properly instructed and trained in the safe use of their hand tools.
  18. In large establishments special fixed tool cabinets or tool boxes for maintenance and repair men should be provided in each department, particularly where special tools or tools too heavy or carry over considerable distances may be frequently needed for their work.
  19. All repairmen should be provided with electric flashlights of flameproof type.
  20. Awkward postures are postures that strain the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands or back. Bending, stooping, twisting and reaching are examples of awkward postures. Tool use and body positioning the work piece will affect your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand or back posture.
  21. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipments like hand gloves, eye glasses etc.
  22. Always carry tools in tool box never carry the tools in your pocket.
  23. Don’t work with oily or graesy hands.
  24. Follow the correct procedure for using every tools.
  25. Carry all sharp tools in a tool box or in the sheath.
  26. Don’t throw tools from one location to another location or one person to another.
  27. Provide training programe on safe use of handtools by a competent person.
  28. Don’t apply excessive force on tools.
  29. Avoid using hand tools in electrical work if they are not designed for electrical work.
  30. To shift the tools to height always use bocket or leather bags.
  31. Make sure all tools are stored in a safe place.
  32. Always stay focused when using tools.
  33. Always apply 5s technique on hand tools to avoid accidents.
  34. Employers shall not issue or permit the use of unsafe hand tools.
  35. Never use hand tools if you are sick, tired, and under the influence of alcohol.

Hand tool hazards

  1. Eye injuries due to flying chips from tools.
  2. Puncture wounds and infections.
  3. Cut injuries due to knives, chisels, and hammers.
  4. Bone fractures due to defective or slipping wrenches and scratches due to scrap.
  5. Cutting of fingers, tendons and arteries etc.

11 Tips for Selecting Hand Tools

  • Single-handle tools for power tasks: A tool with a handle diameter in the range of 1 ¼ inches to 2 inches.
  • Single-handle tools for precision tasks: A tool with a handle diameter of ¼ inch to ½ inch.
  • Double-handle tools (plier-like) for power tasks: A tool with a grip span at least 2 inches when fully closed and < 3 ½ inches when fully open. When continuous force is required, consider using a clamp, a grip or locking pliers.
  • Double-handle tools (plier-like) used for precision tasks: A tool with a grip span > 1 inch when fully closed and < 3 inches when fully open.
  • Double-handled pinching, gripping or cutting tools: A tool with spring-loaded handles to return the handles to the open position.
  • A tool without sharp edges or finger grooves on the handle..
  • A tool coated with soft material or add a sleeve to the tool handle. This pads thesurface but also increases the diameter or the grip span of the handle.
  • A tool which can be used with either hand.
  • A tool with an angle allowing working with a straight wrist.
    • Horizontal force (in the same direction as your straight forearm and wrist), tools with bent handles are better than those with straight handles.
    • Vertical force: Tools with straight handles are better than those with bent handles.
  • Tasks requiring greater force: A tool with a handle length longer than the widest part of your hand – usually 4 to 6 inches. Prevent contact pressure by making sure the end of the handle does not press on nerve and blood vessels in the palm of your hand. If the handle is too short, the end will press against the palm of your hand and may cause an injury.
  • Create a tool with a non-slip surface for a better grip by adding a sleeve to improve the surface texture of the handle. Make sure the sleeve fits snugly during use to prevent tool slippage within the sleeve. Remember: a sleeve always increases the diameter or the grip span of the handle.

Ergonomic design of hand tools:

  1. Effectively performs the intended function.
  2. Be properly proportioned to the dimensions of the user.
  3. Be appropriate to the strength and endurance of the user.
  4. Minimize user’s fatigue. It should be comfortable to the user.

Some biometric factors to be considered in tool design are grasp, left or right-handedness, hand strength, and clothing. Screwdrivers, pliers, saws, and power tools are important for ergonomic design.

Understanding grips, force and pressure

  • Power Grip: provides maximum hand power for high force tasks. All the fingers should comfortably wrap around the tool handle.
  • Pinch Grip: The hand grip provides control for precision and accuracy. The tool is gripped between the thumb and fingertips.
  • Double-handle tools: plier-like tools measured by handle length and grip span. Grip span: The distance between the thumb and fingers when the tool jaws are open or closed.
  • Single hand grip: Tool is positioned to take advantage of pressure from a hard surface, point or edge on any part of the body.

Safety precautions while using common hand tools

Axes safety

  • Use thin bladed narrow axe for hard wood and a thick-bladed wide axe for softwood.
  • Keep the axe sharp and check the handle regularly for splits or looseness around the blade.
  • Make sure that there is a clear circle in which to swing the axe.
  • Always use eye protection.

Chisels safety

  • Replace the chisel as soon as it begins to crack or mushroom. When a mushroomed head is pounced, there is danger that the chips will be knocked off the damaged head and will fly into the eyes.
  • A cold chisel will buckle or bounce if it is not large or strong enough for the metal being cut.
  • Wear safety glasses when chipping or shearing with a cold chisel. Protect the sharp edges of the chisel by storing them in a rack, workbench or slotted section of a toolbox.
  • Chisel head or hammer face must be free from oil or grease.
  • Hammer handle should not be loose.

Knifes safety

  • When worked with knives, wear hand guards, mesh gloves or other types of protective equipment.
  • If it is not possible, keep your body clear off the stroke and wear protective clothing.

Cutters safety

  • Use heavy-duty cutters when cutting thick wire or reinforcing wire or bolts.
  • Never use cutters near live electrical circuits.
  • Apply the force at a right angle to the cutting edge.
  • Wear approved eye protection when using cutters.

Spanners and wrenches safety

  • Spanners and wrenches should always be of the right size and well maintained.
  • If not, they could cause injury, or damage the equipment being repaired or adjusted.
  • Tube extensions on spanners and wrenches may mean too much leverage, which may cause the tool to break.

Saws safety

  • Use smooth, downward strokes to help the saw cut directly across the material.
  • Keep the saw sharp and free from cracks and broken teeth.
  • Do not crowd or force a saw through the cut because the saw may buckle or fly out.
  • Do not hang saws overhead or leave them lying around. They can cause nastily scrapes and cuts.

The vice safety

  • The vice is a very innocent looking tool but it is comparatively easy for a man to get an accident if he is not careful. It can cause accident by:
  • Getting fingers caught between the jaws and work.
  • Getting fingers caught between the knob on the end of the handle head, and the head of the screw.
  • Dropping of heavy work loosely fitted on to the foot.

Hammers safety

  • Before using the hammer, the operator should see that:
  • The hammer is free from grease and oil to avoid accidents due to slippage.
  • The hammer face is not mushroomed. This will cause chips to fly and injure the operator.
  • The hammer is properly wedged to prevent it from coming out and causing injury to somebody.

Files hand tool safety

  • Never use a file without a handle.
  • Always keep the file handle tight.

Hacksaws safety

  • The chief danger in the use of a hacksaw is injuring the hand when a blade break. Breaking is caused by one of following two things:
  • Either the operator is bearing too hard on the blade.
  • The operator is not pushing the saw straight, thereby twisting the blade which causes it to break, thus cause an injury.

Scrapers safety

  • When using scrapers of any kind the following precautions should be observed:
  • Keep both hands clean from grease, oil or respiration.
  • Hold the blade of scraper firmly in one hand using the other hand to push the scraper over the work.
  • Keep the hand high enough from the work to prevent striking the corners of the piece that is being scraped. The corners are often sharp and might cause serious injury to the hand.
  • When scraping bearings keep the hands away from cutting edges of scraper. These edges are sharp and will readily cut the hand.

Adzes tool safety

  • Adzes tools are hazardous tools and should be used by trained workers only.
  • Safety shoes, shin guards and safety goggles are necessary.
  • When not in use, it should be set aside in a safe place with its cutting edges covered.

Importance of Spark Resistant Tools

Around flammable substances, sparks produced by iron and steel hand tools can be a dangerous ignition source. Where this hazard exists, spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood will provide for safety.

  • “Non-sparking”, “spark-resistant” or “spark-proof” tools are names given to tools made of metals such as brass, bronze, Monel metal (copper-nickel alloy), copper-aluminum alloys (aluminum bronze), copper-beryllium alloys (beryllium bronze), and titanium.
  • Preferred “non-sparking” metals have less tensile strength than steels usually used to make tools. A lower tensile strength means the metal has less strength or resistance to tearing apart when stretched under test conditions.
  • It also means that these tools are softer, wear down more quickly than ordinary steel tools, and have to be dressed more frequently.

Do’s and Dont’s in use of hand tools


  • Use hand tools for specific purpose for which they are designed.
  • Inspect hand tools before use.
  • Heads of hammers, chisels should be dressed periodically to avoid mushroom heads.
  • Store hand tools in cabinets or toolboxes.
  • Use only quality tools.


  • Do not use spanner as a hammer or knife as a screwdriver.
  • Never use oversize spanner with packing between nut and spanner.
  • Don’t leave hand tools carelessly, while working at heights as it is a source of danger to persons working below.
  • Do not leave hand tools on floors, on machines, and on pathways.
  • Do not misuse tools.

Faq’s for hand tool safety?

The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from?

1.Eye injuries due to flying chips from tools.
2.Puncture wounds and infections.
3.Cut injuries due to knives, chisels, and hammers.
4.Bone fractures due to defective or slipping wrenches and scratches due to scrap.
5.Cutting off fingers, tendons, and arteries, etc.

chisel hazards?

1.A cold chisel will buckle or bounce if it is not large or strong enough for the metal being cut.
2.When a mushroomed head is pounced, there is a danger that the chips will be knocked off the damaged head and will fly into the eyes, etc.

What are the safety requirements of hand tools?

1.Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment like hand gloves, eyeglasses, etc.
2.Follow the correct procedure for using every tool.
3.Don’t apply excessive force on tools.
4. Carry all sharp tools in a toolbox or in the sheath.
5.Hand tools should be used only for the specific purposes for which they are designed. (Right tool for the job).
6.Always stay focused when using tools.
7.Never use hand tools if you are sick, tired, and under the influence of alcohol.

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