Tool Use, Maintenance & Storage
The use of safety hand tools should be a key component of most industrial safety programs. An understanding of the hand tool’s intended use and environment, combined with proper tool selection, maintenance and storage, will greatly reduce the risk of explosion and fire.
Ampco offers the following common-sense guidelines for Tool Use, Maintenance and Storage, consistent with OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.242 and HTI recommendations:
- Keep non-sparking tools clean and free from ferrous or other contaminants, which may impair the non-sparking properties.
- Do not use non-sparking hand tools in direct contact with acetylene, due to the possible formation of explosive acetylides, especially in the presence of moisture.
- During normal use, all hammers and chisels will progressively develop some damage to the striking faces of hammers or the cutting edge and striking end of chisels. As part of the normal operating and safety procedures, these tools should be returned to the workshop, as with steel tools, to have the faces and heads redressed. This is essential to prevent eye damage resulting from chips detaching from the item during use (as supported by OSHA Standards 1910.266 and 1926.301).
- Do not store hammers and other hand tools fitted with wooden handles in places where the handles may dry out and shrink. This will increase the risk of the handle breaking or the head becoming loose (as supported by OSHA Standard 1910.266).
- Avoid overstrikes, causing damage to the shaft. Supply replacement handles are often available from the manufacturer, and should be fitted by a competent operator, using an approved method of fitting and paying particular attention to the fitting of the wedges (as supported by OSHA Standard 1926.301).
- Fiberglass handles can offer advantages over wooden handles in terms of breaking stress and tolerance for adverse environmental conditions. Fiberglass shafts fail progressively, rather than catastrophically, reducing the risk of sudden failure, injury or damage.
- When selecting a wrench, the jaw opening should have a close and tight fit on the head of the nut or bolt to which it is being applied. This is especially true with non-sparking tools, as they typically do not have the hardness of steel tools.
- Tools are designed for specific use. As with any tool, additional torque should not be applied through the use of “cheater bars.” In addition to the probability that the tool will be damaged, this is a dangerous practice for the safety of the operator. Wrenches should not be used as levers; nor screwdrivers as chisels, and so on.
- The accepted standards of safety and maintenance for common steel hand tools must also be adopted with non-sparking hand tools, in addition to any specific recommendations resulting from the alloys used.
- When sharpening non-spark safety tools, follow normal safety procedures, such as the provision of eye and face protection, adequate extraction and dust collecting facilities.