How to Use a Hammer Safely: Workplace Safety Guide

The hammer is one of the most commonly used tools due to its simplicity and versatility, but it’s crucial to know how to use a hammer safely. Despite its presence in almost every home, the hammer causes around 30,000 injuries per year. Here are some tips on how to use a hammer safely. 

The modern version of the hammer is the claw hammer. The claw hammer, mostly used for nailing, is the hammer that people are most familiar with. It is suitable for light hammering, such as into wood, while hammering into denser materials like metal requires a ball peen hammer. A claw hammer can be used for daily, basic repairs by virtually anyone, but as with all tools, safety precautions should be taken for the protection of yourself and others.

Top Tips for How to Use a Hammer Safely

Whether you’re a construction expert in need of a refresher or an employer who wants to make sure their employees stay safe, hammer safety guidelines are important to keep in mind. Below, we share some tips for how to use a hammer safely, whether you’re at work or at home.

Have a Plan

The first step to doing anything safely is to make a plan of action. Don’t just start swinging wildly- Before swinging your hammer, you need to first think of where you’re swinging, what you’re attempting to accomplish, and how hard you need to swing. Not having a solid plan in place before using a hammer could result in serious injury to you and others.

Inspect Your Hammer

Make sure the handle is sturdy and attached tightly to the head of the hammer. You want to avoid any accidents that could happen from the head flying off the handle and injuring someone or breaking something. 

If the hammer is very old and rusty, do not use it. The wood of the handle could be rotting or the steel head could be corroded. In these cases, the hammer could break or, again, the head could fly off. Try screwing in a loose hammer head with a screwdriver. If that doesn’t work, it is best to use a different hammer.

Wear Goggles

While using a hammer is simple, it still comes with risks. You could swing the hammer back too far and hit yourself in the eye with the claw. Or debris from the hammer or whatever material you’re using could hit you in the face or the eye. Make sure to wear safety goggles and secure them tightly.

Wear Gloves

Gloves are essential for protecting your hands when using anything that requires a good grip. Not only do gloves protect your hands from calluses and other minor injuries, gloves with grips could prevent any loss of control that may occur when using your hammer.

Look Before You Swing

Look to the left and right—and behind you—before swinging your hammer down. This will prevent you from injuring yourself or others. It can also keep the hammer from getting caught on anything else around you. Especially if you’re working in a space with others nearby, it’s crucial to pay mind to your surroundings.

Find a Good Grip

Most hammers come with a rubber grip towards the bottom of the handle. If not, the handle should widen towards the bottom so your hand can support it well. Make sure your thumb is positioned furthest up the handle to control the force of your swing.

Maintain Accuracy

It is very common to whack your fingers when using a hammer. Make sure you have a practice swing, lining up the head of the hammer with the object before swinging. This will prevent bruised thumbs and screams of pain. Build up the force of the swing. Gradually swing, starting lightly and increasing the force as the nail is driven further in.

Once the nail is far enough in place to not move, remove your hand so as not to cause any preventable injuries. Hammering improperly can also harm yourself. Swing with your entire arm, and don’t put too much strain on your shoulder or wrist alone. 

Always Keep a First Aid Kit Handy

It doesn’t matter how many precautions you take when handling equipment or doing work- sometimes, accidents happen. That’s okay, so long as you’ve prepared a first aid kit with the proper items necessary to handle any injury that may occur. There’s a few ways to obtain a first aid kit: you can buy pre-made ones, or you can assemble one yourself. If you choose to make your own, the American Red Cross has prepared an in-depth list of items you should include in your first aid kit. 

In addition to keeping the correct items included in your kit, you should also make sure that you always have a first aid kit on hand when at home, at work, or in your vehicle. We suggest obtaining multiple kits and storing them in any location you may need to administer first aid.

How to Use a Hammer Safely: Choose the Best Tool for the Job

As discussed above, there are different types of hammers appropriate for a wide range of tasks. Matching the right hammer to a specific task will go a long way in preventing injuries. Some types of hammers are: 

  • Claw Hammer: This is the most commonly used hammer, and it’s discussed in detail above.
  • Mallet: A wooden mallet is best used for chiseling wood or woodworking, while a rubber mallet is best used for furniture, as the rubber absorbs any bounce-back of force.
  • Ball Peen Hammer: This hammer is best used for hammering metals. Its smaller shape makes it best to fit in tight areas.
  • Sledgehammer: This is by far the most powerful type of hammer. It is used for knocking out drywall or tearing through smaller areas of a demolition site. Weighing about 11 pounds, the sledgehammer requires extra care when swinging, as it could seriously injure you or others.
  • Body Mechanic’s Hammer: This tool is used only by mechanics on automobiles for things like removing dents. Using a body mechanic’s hammer on a regular nail could cause harm to yourself or others.

Keep Your Employees Safe with Workers’ Comp from Canal HR

Knowing how to use a hammer safely will ultimately make whatever work you are doing safer and more efficient. Taking the proper safety precautions like those outlined in this guide will help you prevent any injury to yourself or others, and to the various different materials, spaces, or objects you could be working on. Everyone should know how to use a hammer safely.

When accidents at work do happen, you want to make sure you have the proper workers’ compensation coverage required by law to take care of your business and your employees. Canal HR gets you the best deal on workers’ comp and helps take care of all the necessary paperwork, so you can focus on growing your business.

Canal HR can also help you with risk management, payroll, and employee benefits. Contact us today for a free consultation.