The human ability to invent and use advanced tools is one of the main things that has helped us to become the dominant species on the planet. Of course, thousands of years ago it would have been impossible to predict just how far tools would come. Whether it is a stick being used as a weapon or any of the advanced tools of today, however, they can all become dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
When managing an industrial or manufacturing facility, tool safety has to be one of the most important areas of focus. While tools can dramatically improve efficiency of work that needs to be done, they can also dramatically increase the severity of injuries during accidents.
According to OSHA’s Hand and Power Tools safety guide:
In the process of removing or avoiding the hazards, workers must learn to recognize the hazards associated with the different types of tools and the safety precautions necessary to prevent those hazards.
OSHA - Hand and Power Tools
With that in mind, all facilities should take tool safety seriously, which can start by reviewing these tips:
Provide Training on Tools
While most people know how to use simple tools like hammers or screw drivers, the same can’t be said of all the different tools used in any given facility. In addition, many of the modern tools are quite complex and can be very confusing for those who don’t have experience with them. In order to avoid potentially serious problems, everyone who works with a given tool should be trained on how to use it properly. Using training materials such as training DVD’s (like this Hand and Power tool training DVD) can be useful when educating employees about proper hand and power tool safety practices. Not only will this help to ensure they are safe while using the tool, but also that they get all the intended advantages from it while it is in use.
Fix or Replace Damaged Tools
Many facilities try to save money by using tools until they are physically broken. This can expose employees to significant risk. Even with something as simple as a hammer, for example, a damaged handle can cause it to slip out of the operator’s hand. It could also snap while hitting something, sending the head of the hammer flying. Of course, all tools are more dangerous when they are damaged, so make sure there is regular inspection of tools, and any damaged ones are fixed or replaced right away.
Lubrication is Essential
It is often necessary to lubricate power tools to ensure they function properly. Since many tools are used for long periods of time in facilities, this is even more important than home use tools. Without regular lubrication, tools can seize up which can damage the tool as well as cause injuries. Knowing the lubrication requirements of each tool is essential for everyone who uses it.
When it comes to tool safety, nothing is more important than having the proper protective equipment. Depending on the work that is being done, hand protection, foot protection and eye protection should all be available to the employees who are performing the work. In some cases, additional protective gear like a hard hat or even a full body suit should be used. Finding the right protective gear for each tool is essential for keeping everyone safe.
Proper Tool Storage
When tools aren’t in use, they should be stored away properly. While this is critical for ensuring the next person to need the tool can find it quickly, it is also an important part of tool safety. Most tools have sharp edges or pointy endings that can cause serious injury. If the tool is not properly put away, the next person to use the tool might get cut or punctured while digging through the tool box. A great tool that will help prevent clutter and injury would be a foam tool organizer. Foam tools organizers help to keep your tools organized in a safe and efficient way.
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Carrying Tools Properly
Related to proper tool storage, the carrying of tools is also very important. When bringing a tool from one area to another, it can cut someone or get dropped and puncture your leg or foot. Keeping any sharp or pointy edges covered while it is being carried, for example, is a great way to improve overall tool safety.
Using the Right Tools for the Job
Another important tool safety tip is to always use the right tool for the job at hand. While it is technically possible, for example, to use the handle of a screw driver to pound in a nail, that is neither safe nor efficient. Many tools can be used for a variety of different purposes, but the further away from the intended use, the less effective it becomes, and the more hazardous.
Cut Away from the Body
While this should be covered in any training provided for saws and other potentially dangerous tools, it is important enough to be repeated here. When cutting something, make sure the direction of the saw is always going away from the body. This will prevent it from slipping and coming in contact with the employee. Similarly, when applying pressure to a screw driver, or any other tool, make sure it will move away from the body in the event that it slips.
Make Tool Safety Everyone’s Responsibility
While all these tips for tool safety can be helpful, they won’t do a thing if people don’t follow them. Make sure all the employees in your facility understand why tool safety is so important. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they have enough experience or skill to be able to be safe without any training or extra precautions. The fact is, it doesn’t matter how skilled or experienced you are. Everyone is at risk of getting injured with tools, and if you don’t take the safety tips seriously, that risk only goes up. In addition, tool safety isn’t just for individual employees using the tools. It is for everyone who works around them as well.