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. The design and condition of tools can accentuate any discomfort and lead to more serious symptoms or other injuries.

Safety solutions

  • 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.
  • Manage the effects of muscle fatigue by working in a way that is comfortable and not in a restricted or awkward position.
  • Avoid working in positions where the arms are above shoulder height or tools are held for extended periods without proper rest breaks or task rotation.

Tool selection and use

  • 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.
  • Inspect tools before use and keep them well maintained.
  • Inform, instruct and train workers in the selection, use and maintenance of hand tools.
  • Replace hand tools with power tools to reduce the level of force required to do the task.

Work area

  • Ensure the work area is well lit.
  • Store tools safely.

Personal protective equipment

  • Wear close-fitting work clothing to avoid entanglement and sturdy work boots with a non-slip sole.
  • Use personal protective equipment such as:
    • goggles/face shields to protect your eyes from flying particles and dust
    • ear muffs to protect your ears from noise damage
    • gloves.

Power tools

Power tools are extremely hazardous when not used correctly.

  • Power tools must be fitted with guards and safety switches. Either a:
    • constant pressure switch which shuts off power upon release (circular saw, chainsaw, grinder, hand-held power drill) or
    • on-off switch (routers, planers, laminate trimmers, shears, jig saws, nibblers, scroll saws).
  • Minimise the time you spend using tools that vibrate such as chainsaws.
  • Regularly inspect power tool cords and get them tested by a qualified person.
Page last updated: 21 February 2020