Tool Safety for Workers
January 20, 2018
Supervisors are Required to Maintain Tool Safety Protocol
Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the primary purpose of maintaining the health and safety from recognizable hazards for every worker across the United States. Supervisors are individuals who oversee the safety of workplaces as well as the physical welfare of workers. As such, supervisors are an important line of defense against debilitating injuries that workers often sustain as a result of unsafe or inadequately maintained tools and/or equipment in the workplace.
One of the key responsibilities and job functions of a supervisor is to keep each and every employee safe. Even hand tools – which are non-electric – may seem like they aren’t dangerous, they actually cause thousands of injuries every year. According to an annual report from the National Safety Council (NSC), as many as 43,250 individuals get hurt badly enough to require time off from work from hand tool-related injuries.
There are lots of different types of hand tools that are capable of posing an array of hazards. Here are a few examples of tools that people are likely to see and/or use in the workplace:
- Cutters, wrenches and pliers;
- Vises, clamps and screwdrivers;
- Hammers and other striking tools, and:
- Knives, saws and drills
It’s typically safe to assume that any tool that’s powered manually counts as some kind of hand tool. OSHA compiles general information on worker health and safety every year and according to its data, two of the most influential factors for workers getting hurt on the job are the misuse of hand tools and inadequate or improper tool maintenance. Because improper tool maintenance and misusing tools are both recognized hazards, it’s the legal responsibility of the employer as well as the supervisor to take the appropriate precautionary measures.
One way that supervisors can help keep workers safe from the known hazards associated with hand tools is to maintain a centrally located tool room. The NSC also recommends employing a tool room attendant, if possible. The attendant can ensure not only that employees are using the correct tool for a job, but also that the tool is kept in a safe working condition. If employing an attendant isn’t a possibility, supervisors need to inspect all hand tools weekly. If workers are allowed to bring and use their own tools, supervisors need to check these also.
Making sure that all hand tools are properly maintained and used correctly aren’t the only ways to inhibit worker injuries. The NSC also recommends that supervisors:
- Carefully inspect all tools that have handles. Tools with handles (such as hammers, axes, etc.) can be dangerous for workers if the handle becomes loose, damaged or splinters (if made from wood);
- Purchase sturdy, reputable and safe products instead of cost-cutting and going for cheaper, less sturdy and less safe ones;
- Urge employees to report all unsafe tools, and show examples of what damaged tools can look like;
- Never leave tools unattended or unsecured – this can create slip and fall hazards or cause tools to fall from elevated surfaces and strike workers below;
- Require employees to use buckets or bags to lift tools off the ground instead of carrying them by hand up ladders, scaffolding, etc.;
- Always have new tools available, in case one breaks or is lost, and:
- Make a rule that tools must be transported via tool box – especially those that have pointed ends – never allow workers to carry them in their pockets
Through adhering to basic safety and health standards, the injuries resulting from the improper use and/or storage of tools in the workplace are largely preventable. Supervisors need to ensure that they take every safety measure possible to limit the avoidable injuries that workers face, especially those that occur as a result of safety failures at work.
Allentown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured on the Job
If you were injured because of safety failures in the workplace, please contact our Allentown Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.