OSHA Standard: 1926.300 – Subpart I – Tools – Hand & Power
Training: Training should be performed upon initial assignment/before use of tool.
Frequency: When roles, conditions, or equipment changes. Or when worker is using the equipment in an unsafe manner.
Hand tools are tools that are powered manually. Hand tools include anything from axes to wrenches. The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance.
Employees who use hand and power tools and are exposed to the hazards of falling, flying, abrasive, and splashing objects, or to harmful dusts, fumes, mists, vapors, or gases must be provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment. Employees should be trained in the proper use of all tools. Workers should 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:
Wrenches must not be used when jaws are sprung to the point that slippage occurs. Impact tools such as drift pins, wedges, and chisels must be kept free of mushroomed heads. The wooden handles of tools must not be splintered. Iron or steel hand tools may produce sparks that can be an ignition source around flammable substances. Where this hazard exists, spark-resistant tools made of non-ferrous materials should be used where flammable gases, highly volatile liquids, and other explosive substances are stored or used.
The employer is responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment used by employees. Employers shall not issue or permit the use of unsafe hand tools. Employees should be trained in the proper use and handling of tools and equipment. Appropriate personal protective equipment such as safety goggles and gloves must be worn to protect against hazards that may be encountered while using hand tools. Workplace floors shall be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent accidental slips with or around dangerous hand tools.
Employees, when using saw blades, knives, or other tools, should direct the tools away from aisle areas and away from other employees working in close proximity. Knives and scissors must be sharp; dull tools can cause more hazards than sharp ones. Cracked saw blades must be removed from service. Workplace floors shall be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent accidental slips with or around dangerous hand tools.
Take Home Points:
Both employer and employee have responsibility in ensuring safety while operating hand tools. Ensure that the tool is maintained and inspected, use the right tool for the right job, follow manufacturers’ guidelines, ensure the workplace is safe for use of the tool, and wear the appropriate PPE.