Even with all of the technology at our fingertips today, a good old-fashioned hammer, screwdriver and ratchet are often the contractor’s best friend. Unfortunately, many accidents every year happen with hand tools right out of the toolbox, and basic safety with these instruments is overlooked. It is every bit as important to practice caution with hand tools as it is heavy machinery and equipment.
Numbers and Statistics
Current estimates say almost ten percent of all workplace accidents resulting in injuries are caused by hand tools. This can create an invisible but serious liability for contractors. They can be costly not only in terms of money, but manpower as well. Toolbox injuries can result in the loss of fingers and eyesight or even nerve damage.
There are many types of injuries that can be caused by toolbox implements. These can include cuts, punctures, abrasions and even amputation. Consider that your toolbox contains instruments designed to cut into wood and metal. Your skin and bones are much easier to damage. Flying bits of debris such as metal shavings or wood chips can cause eye injuries that can even result in permanent loss of sight.
Broken bones and bruises are very common from hand tools. When such tools slip, fall, are tossed or otherwise misused, serious injuries can result. A hammer can turn into a deadly weapon if it falls or is dropped from a height.
Many hand tools require repetitive motion, which can create serious and chronic injuries. When you spend all day turning a screw or rapping at nails with a hammer, your ligaments, tendons and muscles are put under constant stress. Injuries to these can include such things as nerve damage, circulation problems and carpel tunnel syndrome.
Injuries like these can often take a long time to heal and can be very costly to treat. If they are severe enough, they may not ever get completely better. Regardless, the cost of therapy and rehab can be high.
To minimize the risk of accidents and injuries at work, always practice proper safety procedures. Use the correct tool for the job at hand. A wrench is not a hammer, and a screwdriver is not a pry bar or chisel. Do not take shortcuts. Never use tools that are broken, damaged or otherwise not in prime condition. Dull tools should be sharpened or discarded. Worn screwdrivers or ratchets should be replaced.
Make sure your footing is secure and you always cut away from your body. When not using tools, make sure they are stored properly and securely, especially when working at a height where they could fall. Avoid putting tools in your pocket. Always use proper hand and eye protection. Use ergonomic tools and take breaks to give your limbs a rest.
Being aware of the dangers in your toolbox, and exercising care and attention to detail can save potentially serious injuries. Do you have any thoughts about proper safety procedures for hand tools? Leave us a comment and let us know your opinion!