Tips for Safe Handling of Tools

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We should never take hand tools for granted. Unfortunately, many people do—both at home and at work. Household jobs usually aren’t too intricate, so you may think you can get away with using tools improperly or substituting one tool for another, but it’s never a good idea. A contractor, however, makes rugged demands on tools. If we misuse a tool, or use one that’s wrong for the job or in poor condition, it can easily result in injury.

Inspect tools before each use to make sure they are in good condition. Repair damaged tools before using them.

Examples of tools that need repair or replacement include:

  • A hammer with a chipped or mushroomed head with a loose or broken handle
  • A screwdriver with a worn or broken tip
  • Any cutting tool with a dull surface
  • Chisels with a mushroomed head
  • Tools that have had their temper removed or modified due to excess heating


It’s the less obvious misuse of tools that gives us the most trouble, like using a screwdriver, a piece of pipe, or a file as a pry bar. Trouble also comes from trying to get by with a tool that’s not the right size for the job. A common mistake is using a wrench that’s the wrong size for the nut, or one with a handle that’s too short. This can result in the wrench slipping off the nut leading to an injury. Don’t take chances. Get the right tool, even if it takes you a few minutes longer.

If you use hand tools, check them daily for damage and make sure it is the right tool for the job. These simple reminders can save you or a coworker from getting hurt:

  • Don’t use broken or damaged tools, dull cutting tools, or screwdrivers with worn tips.
  • Cut in a direction away from your body.
  • Make sure your grip and footing are secure when using large tools.
  • Carry tools securely in a tool belt or box. Don’t carry tools up ladders. Use a hoist or rope.
  • Keep close track of tools when working at heights. A falling tool can kill a coworker.
  • Pass a tool to another person by the handle; never toss it to them.
  • Use the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job. Follow company instructions for selecting and using safety eyewear, steel-toed shoes, gloves, hard hats, etc.
  • Never carry sharp or pointed tools such as a screwdriver in your pocket.

Taking care of your tools can help prevent injuries on the job. For more on roofing safety with access to webinars and talks, see our safety section.

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