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Hazards of Hand Tools

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The simple, everyday use hand tools are very helpful in getting a job done faster but they can be one of the biggest hazards that workers or users may encounter when using. The greatest hazards caused by hand tools result from improper maintenance, misuse and bad handling.

For example:
  • If a chisel is used as a screwdriver, there is every chance that the tip of the chisel may break and fly off, which might hit the user or any person staying close to the working area.

  • If a wooden handle on a hand tool like that of a hammer is loose, cracked or splintered, the head of the tool may fly off, again hurting the user or other people.

  • The wrench might slip if the jaws of a wrench are sprung.

  • If impact tools like chisels, drift pins start having mushroomed heads, the heads might shatter on further impact, thereby sending sharp fragments flying towards the user or other people nearby.
These are just few examples, clearly showing that misuse of hand tools can lead to severe damages.

The Hazards
Let us now give you some idea about the various hazards or injuries that people face while using hand tools.
  • Falling Hazards: Hand tools are frequently used in hard to reach places, like working off on a ladder, a scaffold or similar elevated location, then falling hazards need to be considered. This means that the person working on an elevated position using a hand tool has the risk of falling down and getting hurt or there is also the risk of the hand tool slipping from his hand, thereby injuring someone staying near the work area.

  • Flying Objects: When in use, there is every chance that hand tools can lead to flying hazards which result from the motion of hand tools. While striking or punching, a hand tool can send particles or fragments into flight. These "flying" pieces which travel at high speed can easily penetrate eyes or skin.

  • Cuts, Bruises and Abrasion Hazards: Various hand tools like knives, snips, chisels, saws or any hand tool with a sharp edge can result in a severe cut or abrasion. This is possible when the hand tool is not handled properly.

  • Breathing Problems: Breathing or respiratory problems can occur for many whenever a hand tool is used because different activities like grinding, sanding, sawing, drilling can lead to hazardous fumes or dusts.

  • Electrical Shocks and Burns: The possibility of electrical burns or shocks exits while using powered hand tools because many power tools use a corded power source.

  • Trips, Falls and Slips: When hand tools are not stored properly or kept haphazardly, there is every chance of slipping, tripping or falling and thereby creating injuries.
Health Hazards
Along with common injuries like cuts and bruises, the prolonged use or frequent use of hand tools can cause other problems like :
  • Aches and pains
  • Soreness
  • Fatigue
which, when ignored, can lead to other chronic musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) of various kinds like:
  • Trigger finger
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • White finger
  • Tendonitis and
  • Other painful problems etc.
Cause of Health Hazards
The health and performance of hand tool users can be affected by several work factors such as follows:
  • Static or constant load on arms and upper body muscles: Static load occurs when muscles are kept motionless for a long time and this is undesirable in any work situation, especially while using hand tools. The muscles become more vulnerable to fatigue and further injury.

  • Awkward working and body positions: Hand tools when used in limited space or accessed in an awkward position has less strength and lead to soreness and eventual injury.

  • Tissue compression: Using a hand tool needs a firm grip. This leads to compression of soft tissue in the fingers and palm, thereby obstructing blood circulation and resulting in numbness.

  • Vibration: Some heavy hand tools can produce significant vibration which leads to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), also known as white finger or Raynaud's syndrome.

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