Hazards of Hand Tools
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.
- 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.
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.
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
which, when ignored, can lead to other chronic musculoskeletal
injuries (MSIs) of various kinds like:
Cause of Health Hazards
- Trigger finger
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- White finger
- Tendonitis and
- Other painful problems etc.
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
- 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.