To avoid accidents in the workplace resulting from the incorrect use of hand tools, it is important for workers to understand the proper use of these items. Managers and department leads should encourage employees to discuss their concerns about the dangers involved with using hand tools. During the session, have each employee practice the correct methods for operating hand tools. It is important that everyone has an opportunity to use the tools in the practice session. Have exercises prepared in advance that will allow each employee to use the hand tools in the shop area. Demonstrate the proper care and storage of the tools. Use the list of tools below as a guide for the session and modify for other tools used within the operation.

The following is a list of major hand held tools that are common to most maintenance shops:

Wrenches: When placing an adjustable wrench on a nut, make sure the adjustable jaw faces the operator; then pull the wrench toward the operator. Use socket wrenches for hard-to-reach places. Never use a pipe wrench on nuts because the corners of the nuts or bolts are likely to break the teeth of the wrench jaws, making it unsafe for future use. Manufacturers make wrenches of different sizes. So, the amount of leverage obtained with the wrench handle is the maximum application; it is unsafe to add more leverage with a length of pipe.

Hammers: When replacing hammer handles, make sure they fit the hammer head. Wedge the handle securely in the head and make sure that it is free of splinters and cracks. Never strike hardened steel surfaces with a steel hammer. Use a soft metal hammer or one with a plastic, wood or rawhide head when striking steel surfaces. Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying objects. Inspect sledge hammers carefully before each use. Use the right type of hammer for the specific job.

Pliers: Never substitute pliers for another tool such as a wrench to complete the task. It may cause the bolt heads to become chewed. Pliers cannot grip nuts and bolts securely and will slip. If working with electricity use hand insulated grips. Make sure the protective coverings are free from cracks or holes. Use a vise when cutting wire with the pliers. Hold the open end of the wire with your free hand to prevent the cutoff piece from flying through the air. If a vise is not available, use your foot to secure the wire and always use safety glasses.

Other tools available in the shop are to be used for the specific job intended. Crowbars should be used only for jobs that require prying. Files must be cleaned with a file card when finished using. Do not strike the file against another piece of metal. Hand hooks must be kept sharp to prevent slipping when in use. They should be stored with the point in cork to reduce accidents. Scrappers must be kept in good, sharp condition for best results.

Review the following points:

  • Use the right tool for the intended job
  • Always wear safety glasses/goggles to prevent serious eye damage.
  • It is unsafe to add more leverage to any tool by use of an extension.
  • Use the shop vise when the job requires.

Safe use of hand-held tools quiz

True or False

1. Keeping hand held tools in good condition can reduce job-related accidents.

2. It is important to wear the proper eye protection when working with hand-held tools to prevent possible eye damage.

3. Using the right tool for the job intended will make the task go quicker and safer.

4. Crowbars should be substituted for hammers if one is not available.

5. Storing all tools on the tool rack helps keep blades and points sharp.

Answer Key
1. T, 2. T, 3. T, 4. F, 5. T