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 proper individual—which is usually the supervisor—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.
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, tendonitis, 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 illnesses:
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 before you notice any symptoms. (Source: CAL-OSHA)
“Trigger-finger” happens when one of your fingers or your thumb catches in a bent position. The finger or thumb may straighten with a snap.
It’s caused by the narrowing of the tendon sheath when repetitive gripping actions are performed. Tendons in the finger joints can swell due to overuse, “locking” the finger into a fixed position.
To avoid this condition, choose tools with triggers that allow two or three fingers to activate the tool.
White-Finger Syndrome, which is also called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is caused by excessive vibration when using tools that can cause reduced blood circulation to the fingers. To help prevent this condition, use anti-vibration gloves.
Safety equipment typically used with hand and power tools include safety glasses, safety shields, respirators, safety-toed shoes, high-top shoes, hard hats, bump caps, leather gloves, leather aprons, and coveralls. It’s very important to follow the safety measures below:
Wear proper clothing. This varies depending on the type of hand or power tool you are working with.
Keep work area and tools clean. Dirty, greasy, and oily tools and floors can cause accidents.
Keep cutting-edge tools sharp. Dull cutting-edge tools are dangerous as they require excessive pressure and hammering to make them cut.
A lack of attention to the work being performed can result in serious injuries. Loud talking as well as pushing, running, and scuffling while working with hand tools can also cause serious accidents. Be sure to do the following:
Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.
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