Toolbox Talk No. 12 - Hand Tools: Inspections & Maintenance
Today, we have an essential topic for construction work – how to properly inspect and maintain your hand tools. Every construction worker needs a variety of tools in their belt, but to keep your tools in top shape you need to take good care of them. Often, hand tool maintenance is overlooked because they are manually powered, but a great routine to end the day will save you time and money in replacing these standard tools that should last you a long while. Whatever your favorite brand, read along for helpful tips and tricks to keep your hand tools effective, and how to identify tools that need to be hung up for good.
Hand Tools: Training
Using hand tools might seem simple, but it is imperative to ensure you are confident in how to correctly use a tool before beginning work. First and foremost, you should only use a tool if you have experience with it or have been trained how to use it. Learning from someone who is already trained to use a tool is the best way to get a properly thorough introduction. If you don't have access to a trained professional who can give you direct training, equipment manuals are an excellent resource for independently learning how to use a tool properly. If you choose to learn by reading a manual, consider searching youtube for a professional worker providing tips about the specific tool you are using.
BEFORE The Work
Make sure you have chosen the right tool for your job. While this is a simple thing to check, it can save you hours of trial and error (and the frustration that comes with it!). The tool you choose must be appropriate for the work and within its design limitations, which can be double checked in its equipment manual.
Once you are certain the tool you have selected is correct for the job, it's time to inspect the workspace where you intend to use the tool. The workspace should be well lit with a stable, secure, clean and dry surface. If possible, adjust your workspace to prevent unnecessary strain.
Last, but certainly not least, it is time to inspect the tool. It is essential to inspect every tool before you use it, every time. Your tools should be thoroughly inspected to ensure they are not defective or damaged. Faulty tools can cause injuries ranging from cuts to blindness. A defective tool is not worth the risk to your safety. When inspecting a tool, look for signs of defects. The following list will help you get the idea of what to look for and why.
- Splintered or chipped handles indicate the potential for catastrophic failure. Always ensure the handle is attached firmly to the tool.
- Dulled or rusted blades will slow work considerably. Sharpen blades when needed. Keep tools dry to prevent rusting and related water damage.
- Excess dirt and grime can cause your grip on the handle to slip. It is important to keep tools clean for safest use.
- Wear on the grip has a similar effect to excess dirt. Inevitably after a tool has been used for many jobs, the grip will wear down to a point where it becomes slippery. When the grip of a tool is too slick to use, it is time to retire it.
DURING The Work
So you have inspected your tool, it is good to go, and you are ready to begin your work. The tools in use should be well-balanced, fitting comfortably in your hand. Proper tools should not strain your arm or require excessive force. Do not force your hand or wrist into awkward positions as this can cause injury to joints, ligaments, and even bone. If you find yourself straining excessively, stop work and find a tool more suited for the task at hand. Nothing should be pinching, poking, or cutting your hand during use.
If you need to set a tool down while your work is still in progress, do not put your tool down on any overhead workspaces. Tools should not be placed on ladders or scaffolds for any reason unless they are tethered. Tool belts are an excellent way to secure tools when working on a ladder or moving around a jobsite. It is essential to ensure any sharp tools not in use are properly stored to prevent cut hazards. Sheath blades in a casing after use each time.
AFTER The Work Is Done
Once you're finished with whatever task required hand tools, the job isn't complete. It is important to clean your tools, inspect them after each use, and put them in a safe location after finishing up. Regular maintenance helps keep your hand tools in reliable, safe condition.
Wipe them down with a rag to remove dust, grime, and/or grease left behind. Inspect the tool to ensure no damage has occurred during use such as cracks, chips, or loose connections. Immediately tag and set aside if any of the mentioned are present.
Use an all-purpose oil on the metal components of your tools, but be sure to avoid handles. Oil on the metal parts of a tool will help prevent rust and corrosion. wipe away excess oil so the metal components are coated with a thin, even layer. if you used a bladed tool, check if it is still sharp. dull and nicked tools are not effective. sharpening blades enhances efficiency and can prevent injury caused by strain
After taking care of your tool, it should be placed in it's toolbox, hanging on a tool rack, or wherever you store it. Keeping tools in a safe, clean location increases their lifespan and helps you find them when needed for future jobs. There are a wide range of options. You can use a toolbox, storage container, or shelving to properly store your tools. Storage compartments should be kept away from moisture and intense weather. For more tips on storage and housekeeping, check out our blog.
Thank you for reviewing the proper use of hand tools with us today! It may seem simple, but it is a vital component of construction. Everyone uses hand tools, and no one wants to an unnecessary injury or constant replacement of hand tools due to poor maintenance or storage. What is your favorite hand tool? How do you care for it? Share below in the comments!
Wishing you a happy and safe workplace,
WRYKER's Safety Team