Approach Management

ToolBox Talks: Hammer & Chisel Usage

One of the most common causes of hand injuries is from the improper use of hammers and chisels. Both are responsible for a high number of injuries as a result of flying nails, metal or concrete chips.



A journeyman ironworker was using a metal wedge, to level a steel column with a sledge hammer. As he was driving the wedge, the worker felt a sharp sting on the top of his hand. As he looked at his hand, there was a small hole with a minimal amount of blood coming out. The ironworker thought it was nothing until later that evening, he could not move his hand. Infection had set in and he had to have surgery to remove a small piece of metal which came from the steel of the wedge. Investigation found, the wedge had a bubble at the top of it. As the worker hit the wedge with his hammer, a small piece of metal shot out at a high velocity, striking him on the top of the hand. This worker was not able to return to work for several weeks due to the surgery and infection. He eventually came back to work, making sure his tools were safe and properly maintained. A tough lesson learned.


So, during chisel use;

  • Never use a chisel/metal wedge with a mushroomed head. 
  • Always wear eye protection. 
  • Hold the chisel/metal wedge between the thumb and forefingers – don’t make a fist around the chisel/metal wedge. 
  • Do not grip a chisel/metal wedge if your hands are numb. 
  • If another worker is nearby, place yourself between the other worker and the chipping area. 
  • Always use sharp chisels.


Hammer Use

  • Use the right type of hammer for the job. 
  • Only use hammers in good condition. 
  • Use only hammers to drive objects. 
  • Always grip the hammer close to the end and grip it tightly. 
  • Wear eye protection. 
  • Always concentrate on the striking point. 
  • Strike blows as squarely as possible. 
  • Be sure there is an unobstructed back swing. 
  • Don’t strike blows with the side of the hammer. 
  • Never strike a hammer or tempered tool with another hammer. 
  • Always keep your hammer free of grease and oil. 
  • Never allow someone else to hold a nail or chisel while striking it.


Remember: In addition to using common sense and following the techniques discussed, wear safety glasses, proper gloves and when needed, goggles when chiseling around metal, concrete or shooting nails. This will decrease the chances of receiving eye or hand injuries.


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