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» STANDARDS (AFNOR PICTOGRAMS): :
» PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT: (Gloves, glasses, anti-noise helmets, footwear, hard hats etc.)
Choosing personal protection equipment that complies with European directives is a measure of how seriously we take protection and means that the equipment complies with specific standards and is regularly checked during its manufacture.
Be sure to choose the right equipment because there are several standards according to the level of risk involved: ask your dealer for advice or read any information attached to the product.
- Gloves: preferably choose leather gloves of the right size for your hands.
- Protective glasses: preferably choose goggles or full-face visors which are much more effective against high-energy impacts. Ordinary glasses are not sufficient to ensure good protection against flying objects.
- Hearing protection: essential when striking metal against metal.
- Clothing: we advise the use of reinforced clothing as used by woodcutters when using chainsaws or at least thick clothing to cover the maximum skin area.
- Safety shoes: essential for professionals, they can also be very useful for individuals as they have an anti-skid sole and are resistant to nails and the tines of forks and also have a reinforced toe area which can be used for resting a heavy load in case of difficulty handling it. In addition, their design has come a long way and they now look the same as ordinary footwear.
- Hard hats: essential for professionals, they must be worn whenever there is a risk of falling objects, in particular of tools falling on the head of a person working below.
» SAFETY ADVICE:
This advice should not be considered as exhaustive and covering against all bad practice. It complements but does not replace the precautions that should be taken by each user in respect of regulations in force in each country.
Specific advice for cutting tools (Rip hooks, bill hooks, hatchets and axes):
- Select the right tool for the job and use it only for the purpose for which it is intended.
- Modifying a tool can weaken it. Do not use a tool beyond its capacity (e.g. by lengthening the handle).
- Position yourself correctly, ensure correct balance and pay attention to your back (straight back, legs bent).
- Ensure good lighting.
- Check the stability of scaffolding, ladders and stepladders.
- Read labels and instructions and choose the right protective equipment.
- The use of a tool requires the common sense to appreciate its capabilities: certain tools should not be used by people who are too young or too old.
- Store tools out of the reach of children and re-fit covers to sharp edges or points.
- Do not store tools leaning against something or high up (they could roll and fall).
- Check the condition of a tool before use and do not use it if it shows excessive wear or signs of damage (cracks).
- Be mindful of persons around you when using a tool: if necessary keep them outside a safety buffer zone (5 to 10 metres) and make them wear safety equipment
- The right choice of tool and correct positioning have to be learnt from a professional, your tool dealer or someone with the necessary experience.
- Always remember to pass on this safety advice to anyone to whom you lend a tool.
- Hammers can produce sparks: do not use them in an inflammable or explosive atmosphere.
- It is actually the case that a blunt tool is more dangerous because it requires twice as much energy to use: learning to sharpen a tool and do so regularly is essential.
- Their use requires calm and correct positioning, so that if the blade slips or rebounds it does not finish by injuring the user.
- Do not strike an axe or hatchet with a hammer or sledge hammer as there is a risk that the metal will chip and the tool will break.
- Wear glasses, gloves and protective clothing.
Specific advice for striking tools (Mauls, hammers, club hammers and sledge hammers):
- The main risk posed by these tools is from flying metal chips either from the tool itself or the object being struck. Chips may be due to a defect in the metal or simply the aging of the tool or incorrect use.
- The striking surfaces of sledge hammers and mauls undergo heat treatment which gives them resistance to impacts but it is absolutely forbidden to knock two striking surfaces together, one against the other: the risk of chips is real and serious.
- You must therefore never hit a maul directly with a sledge hammer.
Specific advice for spikes and chisels:
- Preferably choose tools with hand protection.
- If none is available use a hammer or club hammer whose edges and corners are rounded, so as not to break the skin in the event of a mis-hit.
- The head of a spike or chisel will deform under the repeated blows of a hammer and will quickly form a sharp burr which should be regularly removed. This phenomenon is normal, since the head of the spike or chisel is not hardened, so as to avoid the production of metal chips.
- Never use a spike or chisel made from a piece of scrap steel (e.g. a car suspension torsion bar): you would actually be hitting a hardened head with a hammer which is itself hardened and there would be significant risk of metal chips.
- Stone and concrete chips can also be dangerous for the user and for the environment. Wear glasses, gloves and protective clothing.
Specific advice on tool handles:
- The handle is the link between the working part and the user: its breakage is not necessarily dangerous but it is often sudden and can cause the user to lose balance.
- In certain circumstances the metal part of the tool can fly and injure the user or someone close by.
- Regular examination of the handle, especially after a mis-hit, is strongly advised so as to decide whether to continue use of the tool or to change the handle.
- As a general rule a wooden handle which has lost a third of its thickness should be changed.
- Similarly, a fibreglass handle which shows signs of exterior cracking should also be changed.
- These have a working life much longer than that of wooden handles.
- For a user to change a handle may appear simple at first glance, but a bad fit between the metal part and the handle can severely reduce tool performance: ask the advice of your dealer (always take the tool to the shop so you can try the fit) or an experienced person.
- The joint between the steel and the handle must always be made with the addition of a nail or screw: it must be done carefully to avoid the steel and the handle coming apart.
(changing a handle)
» TRAUMA & ERGONOMICS:
Back pain and musculoskeletal disorders are the two complaints must often encountered among users of tools, other than, of course, the direct injuries already mentioned. MSD = Musculoskeletal disorders
Often better known as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. MSDs result from repeated micro traumas when using certain tools which are unsuitable or using them incorrectly. It is not possible to completely avoid these ailments but their effects can be reduced by following this advice:
- Avoid repetitive actions and vary work so as not to work the same muscles all the time.
- Keep the hand and wrist in a straight line and try to maintain a natural and balanced position. Do not use tools whose handles are moulded or engraved with finger positions. They only fit certain sizes of hand and require extra effort in use for other people.
- Choose handles whose surface has a grip so that it requires less effort to hold them (when working in the rain, for example).
- Wear gloves that are a good fit and which offer a grip comparable to that of your bare hands.
- You can fight against it by using a tool that suits you (weight, size and especially handle length).
- Choose brands of tools that offer large handles (1 metre for picks / 1.50 or even 1.80 metres for rakes and scrapers) and do not hesitate to change the handle if the original length does not suit you.
- Know how to pace yourself and adopt a posture with a straight back and knees bent (e.g. when applying effort with a pickaxe).
» IN-STORE SAFETY:
- Ensure that cutting edges and tool points are well protected by effective guards, including tools without handles. Place heavy tools (over 3 kg) down low.
- Allow space between each tool so that each tool may be easily picked up and especially replaced. Do not allow access to reserve stock that may be stored up high.
- Choose heavy-duty shelving with reinforcing bars. Do not hesitate to contact your supplier to check the suitability for load.
- Choose hooks with at least an 8mm diameter, with deep notches and raised edges so that tools do not slip off.
- When loaded the hook must remain absolutely horizontal. (For more information about choosing hooks, see the AFNOR NF E25-080 standard).
- When situating podiums, plan for a safety perimeter designed to prevent access.