Using hand tools incorrectly – or tools that are not fit for purpose or not suited to the user – can lead to joint and tissue injury.
Check before you start work that you have the right tool for the job and that you are working comfortably and not in a restricted or awkward position. The design and condition of tools can accentuate any discomfort and lead to more serious symptoms or other injuries.
- Select tools that are designed for the task.
- Select tools that are comfortable to hold and use, and don’t put localised pressure on muscles and joints in the palm and fingers.
- If one is provided, read the tool owner’s manual prior to use.
- Plan how you will do the work safely before you start including a plan for what you will do if something does go wrong.
- Inspect before use and regularly maintain tools to keep them in good working order.
- Inform, instruct and train workers in the selection, use and maintenance of hand tools.
- Store tools safely.
- Regularly inspect power tool cords and get them tested by a qualified person if they appear faulty.
- Wear close-fitting work clothing to avoid entanglement and sturdy work boots with a non-slip sole.
- Use personal protective equipment (e.g. goggles/ face shields to protect your eyes from flying particles and dust, ear muffs to protect your ears from noise damage, gloves).
- Use guards where needed and do not remove them.
- Ensure the work area is well lit.
- Minimise the time you spend using tools that vibrate (e.g. chainsaws).
- Manage the effects of muscle fatigue by reducing the need to work in positions where the arms are above shoulder height or tools are held for extended periods without proper rest breaks or task rotation between workers.
- Replace hand tools with power tools to reduce the level of force required to do the task.
Power tools are extremely hazardous when not used correctly and must be fitted with guards and safety switches. Hand-held power tools must have a:
- constant pressure switch which shuts off power upon release (e.g. circular saw, chainsaw, grinder, hand-held power drill), or
- on-off switch (e.g. routers, planers, laminate trimmers, shears, jig saws, nibblers, scroll saws).