Hand tools are extensions of our hands. When we misuse our hands, we experience pain. When we misuse hand tools, the possibility of injury to ourselves or people working around us increases considerably. Furthermore, using a tool incorrectly can damage the tool or even cause the tool to fail. Here are some guidelines for hand tool safety.
Use the Right Tool for the Job
Using the correct tool for the job is the first step in safe hand tool use. Tools are designed for specific needs. That’s why you’ll find screwdrivers with various lengths and tip styles and pliers with different head shapes. Using any tool inappropriately is a step in the wrong direction. To avoid personal injury and tool damage, select the proper tool to do the job well and safely.
Quality professional hand tools will last many years if they are taken care of and treated with respect. Manufacturers design tools for specific applications. If you use your screwdriver as a chisel or a pry bar, you can’t expect it to be in good shape when you actually need to drive a screw. Use tools only for their intended purpose.
Use Insulated Tools When Needed
Many jobs require the use of insulated tools. Hand tools are often used in combination with lockout tag systems to ensure that the circuits are not live. Most maintenance technicians claim they never work a job “hot.” But, what happens when a computer is on the circuit and it can’t be shut down, or when medical equipment is connected to the circuit? You never know when a situation will arise where insulated tools are required. All professionals need to have some insulated tools in their collection.
Insulated hand tools must be clearly marked with the official, international 1,000-volt rating symbol. They also must meet IEC 60900 and ASTM F1505 standards. Every insulated tool is tested at 10,000 volts to receive a 1,000-volt rating. These tools are designed to reduce the chance of injury if the tool should make contact with an energized source. Make note, tools with plastic-dipped or slip-on plastic handles are not insulated. Those features are for comfort only. Likewise, wrapping a tool with electric tape does not provide insulation.
Inspect insulated tools frequently. Watch for any wear or cracking of the insulation. Keep them clean, dry, and free of surface contaminants, which can compromise their insulating properties. If the dielectric insulation has been breached by cutting, wear, or a burn, the tool should be taken out of service to ensure safety.
Follow General Safety and Maintenance Practices
Safe tool use contributes to a safer, more efficient work environment. Misusing automotive tools is not only dangerous, it shows a lack of understanding of tool safety and a lack of respect for those around you. Also, if improper tool use causes an accident, downtime will impact the entire job.