Safety Tips Hand tools

Know how to handle a hammer

Source: mihalec/iStockphoto

According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, hammers are “widely used and often abused.” So, what can workers do to avoid injuries?

Proper use

CCOHS recommends first selecting a hammer that feels comfortable in your hand and is the appropriate size and weight for the task you’ll be performing. Then, choose a hammer that has a striking face diameter of about half an inch larger than the face of the tool being struck (such as a chisel or wedge).

Stay aware of your surroundings and where co-workers are standing. Always look above and behind you before swinging a hammer, and keep your eye on the object you’re hitting.

Other tips include ensuring the hammer’s head is firmly attached to the handle; wearing face protection such as safety glasses, goggles and face shields; and being careful to strike a blow directly with the striking face parallel to the surface being struck. Additionally, avoid making glancing blows and striking objects in an over or under fashion.

Don’t do it

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a number of actions should not be taken when wielding a hammer.

According to CCOHS, workers should never:

  • Use a hammer with a loose, cracked or splintered handle.
  • Use a hammer that has a “mushroomed” or chipped face.
  • Use a hammer to strike another hammer or other hard object.
  • Use a hammer for any task it was not specifically designed or intended for.
  • Grind, weld, redress or reheat-treat a hammerhead.
  • Strike any object with the side of a hammer.
  • Toss or throw a hammer. When passing a hammer to someone, always hand it to them handle-first.

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