Look around your workshop
- Is the work area as free from hazards as possible?
- Is the area equipped to handle emergency situations; for example, with fire extinguishers, properly equipped first aid kits?
- Is the workshop managed to keep it safe?
- Are tools and equipment properly guarded?
- Do workers use tools and equipment in a safe manner?
- Do workers use appropriate personal protective equipment?
- Read the operator’s manual and observe all safety precautions for all equipment.
- Protect yourself from electric shock. Check power tools before use. Fit a residual current device (RCD or safety switch) to the electrical circuit to prevent electrical shock or electrocution. If an RCD is not fitted, use a portable RCD.
- Keep all guards and shields in place.
- Give the task your full attention.
- Let each tool work at its own speed; do not force it.
- Always wear appropriate personal protective clothing.
- Maintain secure footing and balance at all times.
- Keep tools clean and sharp.
- Turn the switch off immediately if the power tool stalls or jams.
- Wherever possible, use clamps or a vice to hold your work.
- Provide enough light so you can see what you are doing.
- Store power tools safely to prevent damage to the tool and cord, and to prevent unauthorised use.
- Maintain power tools in good working order. Replace or repair worn or faulty equipment immediately.
The main causes of injury with hand tools include:
- using the wrong tool
- using a tool in poor condition
- using a tool the wrong way
- keeping tools in unsafe places.
So prevent injury by following these safe practices when using tools.
- Use tools of an appropriate size and shape for the job.
- Wipe oil, grease and dirt from tools with a clean rag before starting a job.
- Clean tools and keep in trays or boxes when not in use.
- Shut off machines before adjusting them.
- Wear safety glasses when using punches, chisels, hammers or grinding devices.
- Use safety equipment when removing and installing heavy parts.
- Hold safety meetings to teach workers about the care and safe use of tools.
- Keep a first aid kit and a doctor’s name, address and phone number handy for emergencies.
- Don’t use homemade or re-worked tools, or tools not designed for the job.
- Don’t use pipe extensions or other ‘cheaters’ or wrenches too light for the job.
- Don’t place tools where they can fall and strike someone.
- Don’t carry pointed or sharp tools in your pockets.
- Don’t throw tools — hand them. Use a rope or cord to raise or lower tools and equipment.
- Always pull on a wrench, never push.
- Always face wrench jaw openings in direction of pull.
- When pulling on a wrench, brace against a backward fall by placing one foot behind the other.
- Inspect ratchet wrenches periodically and replace worn or defective parts.
- Keep moving parts of adjustable wrenches clean and lubricated.
- Don’t try to work with a wrench in a cocked position.
- Use angle connections so that the wrench will fit flat and square on the nut or bolt head.
- Don’t use wrenches with spread-out jaw openings or sockets with battered or rounded walls.
- Don’t use a wrench as a hammer.
- Don’t pound on a wrench to loosen a frozen nut; use penetrating oil, a heavier wrench or one designed for impact work.
- Use the right length screwdriver so that it can be applied at right angles to the screw head.
- Use the largest-sized screwdriver that will fit snugly into the screw slot.
- Use a screwdriver with an insulated handle for electrical work.
- Don’t use a screwdriver with a worn or broken tip.
- Don’t use a screwdriver as a punch, chisel or pry-bar.
- Don’t hold a small part in your hand while working on it with a screwdriver — put it into a vice.
- Point the inside of plier cutting jaws away from your face to prevent injury from flying cuttings.
- Don’t use pliers with smoothly worn gripping sections or with loose rivets or nut and bolt assemblies.
- Don’t use pliers for bolt turning — they are designed for gripping and cutting only.
- Don’t overload cutting pliers. If wire can’t be cut with one hand squeezing pliers, use a larger pair of pliers.
- Check the insulation on pliers — a pin hole can be fatal.
Chisels and punches
- Use a chisel with a cutting edge of the same width or wider than the area to be cut.
- Use the largest punch to fit the job without binding.
- Hold chisels and punches loosely with the palm up, or use a tool holder.
- Don’t use chisels and punches with ‘mushroomed’ heads — metal may chip off and cause injury.
- Don’t use a chisel, punch or pry bar to remove gears, wheels or bearings from a shaft — use a pulling tool.
- Use a hammer heavy enough for the job.
- Don’t use a hammer with a cracked head or handle.
- Don’t use a hammer with a ‘mushroomed’ or battered and rounded striking face.
- When spalling rock with a heavy hammer, wear eye protection.
- Fit the sharp end with a handle.
- Place small objects in a vice for filing.
- Don’t hit a file with a hammer.
- Don’t use a file to pry, chisel or punch.
- Frequently inspect the condition of switches, control valves, electric cord and hose connections. Store electric cords loosely coiled in a clean, dry place.
- Always use a portable residual current device (RCD or safety switch) where a fixed RCD is not available.
- Keep electric tools away from oil, hot surfaces and chemicals.
- Ground electric tools to prevent possible electric shock.
- Don’t patch damaged cords — shorten or replace them.
- Don’t hang a cord over a nail or sharp edge or allow it to kink.
- Don’t leave a cord where it can be run over or damaged.
- Don’t use electrical tools in wet areas or where flammable gases or vapours are present.