This first module takes a look at the various hazards associated with working with tools and identifies ways to prevent worker injury through proper use of tools and personal protective equipment.
The employer is ultimately responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment used by employees. Employers should never issue or permit the use of unsafe hand and power tools.
Employees should be trained in the proper use and handling of tools and equipment.
Workers should also be able to recognize the hazards associated with the different types of tools and the safety precautions necessary.
Five basic safety rules can help prevent hazards associated with the use of hand and power tools:
Employees and employers should work together to establish safe working procedures. If an employee encounters a hazardous situation, it should be brought immediately to the attention of the supervisor or other responsible person immediately for hazard abatement.
Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the theSafetyBrief.com. It’s easy to forget how dangerous tools can be. They're around every worksite and in constant use. Dan reminds us that tool safety is everyone’s responsibility.
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Some tools are advertised as “ergonomic” or designed with ergonomic features. A tool becomes “ergonomic” only when it fits the task you are performing, and it fits your hand without causing awkward postures, harmful contact pressures, or other safety and health risks.
If you use a tool that does not fit your hand—or use the tool in a way it was not intended—you might develop an injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, or muscle strain.
These injuries do not happen because of a single event, such as a fall. Instead, they result from repetitive movements that are performed over time or for a long period.
Unsafe practices may result in damage to muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, joints, cartilage, spinal discs, or blood vessels. Below are some ergonomic issues to consider when using hand and power tools.
|Neutral Position: When working with hand tools, it is good practice to maintain a neutral (handshake) wrist position. Remember, bend the tool, not the wrist.|
|Flexion and Extension: Design tasks and select tools to reduce extreme flexion or deviation of the wrist.|
|Power Grip: The hand grip that provides maximum hand power for high force tasks. All the fingers wrap around the handle.|
|Contact Pressure: Pressure from a hard surface, point, or edge on any part of the body.|
|Pinch Grip: The hand grip that provides control for precision and accuracy. The tool is gripped between the thumb and the fingertips.|
The best tool does the following:
The following are some of the conditions that can cause hand and wrist disorders:
You may have a problem if you have any of these symptoms:
These symptoms may not appear immediately because they develop over weeks, months or years. By then, the damage may be serious. Take action when you notice any discomfort. (Source: CAL-OSHA)
Tools that are manually powered are called hand tools. Hand tools include anything from axes to wrenches. Common hand tools include: Tin snips, hatchets, screw drivers, hammers, pliers, anvils, wrenches, files, rasps, saws, punches, chisels, planes, hand-held boring tools, and pop rivet guns.
The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance.
Some examples include the following:
Before you select a tool, think about the job you will be doing. Tools are designed for specific purposes.
Using a tool for something other than its intended purpose is most often the cause of both tool damage and personal injury. You can reduce your chances of being injured when you select a tool that fits the job you will be doing. Examples include the following:
Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the theSafetyBrief.com. Hand safety means more than wearing PPE. Even jobs that don't require gloves can be dangerous for hands. Repetitive motion can affect tendons and joints. Ergonomics can help with the design and arrangement of tools to maximize hand safety.
Over time, exposure to awkward postures or harmful contact pressures can contribute to an injury. You can reduce your risk of injury if you select hand tools that fit your hand and the job you are doing. In the next tab, we'll discuss some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Single-handle tools are tube-like tools measured by handle length and diameter. The diameter is the length of a straight line through the center of the handle.
Double-handle tools are measured by handle length and grip span. The grip span is the distance between the thumb and fingers when the tool jaws are open or closed.
It’s important to consider the edges and surfaces of the handles of tools you want to use. Be sure to check the following:
Select a tool with an angle that allows you to work with a straight wrist.
Be sure to follow these general rules when using hand tools:
Always use proper-sized tools and equipment for the job. Use each tool only for the job for which it was intended. Forcing a small tool to do the job of a large one may result in injury or tool damage. Follow these guidelines:
To make sure tools remain in good condition, follow these guidelines when replacing and storing tools:
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