Safety Tips

At Seattle Tool we care about our customer

We like to send the message that tools don’t have to be serious and all about work, but we also understand that there’s a time to put witty banter in the back seat (just for now) and stay focused on the road ahead. So, when it comes to learning about safety, we want to keep things straight and to the point. Below you’ll find a number of helpful suggestions designed with your best interests in mind. If it helps, play some somber music to get yourself in the mood.

It’s a joy to work with high quality tools, but an accident can quickly change your enjoyment into discomfort or worse. We realize that not all of our customers are seasoned professionals so we have included the following information as a guide to safe work practices. Obviously not every contingency can be covered here and we recommend further reading about safety issues in technical textbooks and manuals.

Safety for Everyone

Few of us work in isolation. Other people and/or pets may pass by as we work. It is a moral obligation that each of us avoid endangering others through our actions. This point is particularly important when children may be present. Their natural curiosity coupled with a lack of experience and sense of danger places them at a higher risk of injury. There will be times when it is best to postpone your task until children can be cared for by others so you can concentrate on your task. Remember this when reviewing the following material and consider how to best protect others as well as yourself.


Personal Safety

Whatever the undertaking, there are choices to make concerning the best clothing and personal safety gear to use.  Whether pulling the engine out of a car or tuning your bicycle a little forethought and preparation will make the job safer.

•    Always wear eye protection when there is a risk of flying material.  Good quality safety glasses are a wise investment.
➢    If you wear prescription glasses use safety glasses which fit over your eye glasses or use a face shield. If you do a lot of work with tools consider purchasing safety frames and lenses. (Normal eye glasses are not safety glasses. Neither the frames nor lenses are designed to protect your eyes. )
•    Remove all personal jewelry, including rings and watches. Having a cherished ring destroyed is bad enough, but suffering from a damaged finger is worse. Put items in your pocket, or better still leave them safely in your house.
•    Tie back long hair or wear a hat which contains it. This is especially important if you’re working around rotating equipment like a running engine or drill.
•    Safety footwear is available in a wide range of style and price. Look for the CSA Green Triangle logo which indicates the shoes or boots meet Canadian standards for toe and shank protection. Why ruin those expensive jogging shoes when you can have safety for much less money?
•    Wear clothing appropriate for the job. Properly fitting coveralls are best for working on machines like cars or snowmobiles. A smock is good for smaller jobs like bicycle repair. They offer protection for you and your street clothes, and can cost less than a pair of jeans. Avoid loose-fitting clothes which may get caught as you work.
•    Plastic or vinyl gloves will protect the skin when working with greasy or oily parts. Disposable types are ideal when doing an oil change or similar tasks. Some mechanics wear special gloves much of the time when working on engines, etc.


Housekeeping and Work Environment

In the zeal of the job you may find yourself surrounded by parts, tools and equipment. When this happens it is not only counterproductive as you can’t quickly locate the tool or piece you need, but it is dangerous as you could easily slip on a tool or trip over a part. Take a breather every half hour or so to clean and organize your tools and place parts in storage out of your way. In many instances it’s a good idea to have containers available for parts as you remove them.

It’s always nice to work in comfortable conditions. You may not have the luxury of a large shop at home but you can usually choose when and where to work. Try to schedule tasks when the weather cooperates so you won’t be in a rush.

Be sure to have adequate light to work safely. The old style trouble-light is okay, but prone to failure when knocked about and they do get hot. Consider the newer fluorescent or LED styles which are more robust and even available in cordless versions.


Hand Tools

Inspect your tools periodically and repair or replace any which are damaged. In use keep them clean and dry, wiping them with a rag when necessary to ensure a good grip.

•    Use the correct style and size of screwdriver for the screw.
•    Don’t use a screwdriver as a pry-bar or chisel.
•    Never hold a small part in your hand and then apply force with a screwdriver. If it slips off the screw it may pierce your hand. Place the part on a bench and keep the holding hand clear of the screwdriver just in case it does slip.
•    Blade-style screwdrivers may be re-ground if damaged. Grind slowly and quench in water often to avoid damaging the tip from overheating. Try to produce a flat, square tip.

•    Wrenches are of a physical size appropriate for the torque or twisting force they are designed to apply. When the tool is short it is not intended to apply much force, whereas a long wrench can apply considerable torque to loosen/tighten fasteners. Never try to increase torque by extending the handle length of a tool with a pipe or other object. Doing so invites disaster and inevitably results in damage to the tool, the user, or both. For socket wrenches pick the drive size (1/4”, 3/8” or ½”) to suit the job.
•    Whenever possible PULL on wrenches. If you really must push, do so with the palm of your hand and with the fingers open. In this way if the wrench slips your hand won’t be caught between the wrench and something else.
•    Six-point wrenches and sockets are stronger than thin-walled twelve-point types and also offer a better grip on the fastener. Use six-point tools when space restriction isn’t an issue.
•    Avoid using ratchet handles when high torque is required. Use a swivel handle or sliding T-Bar to loosen tight fasteners then switch to the ratchet for speed.

Hammers and Punches
•    Be sure the hammer head is tight on the handle. Repair a loose head before using the hammer so it can’t fly off as the hammer is swung.
•    Keep hammer handles clean and dry. A slippery handle is more difficult to hold and control making your job more difficult, and may slip from your grip.
•    Inspect both ends of a chisel before using it. The working end should not be chipped or distorted.
➢    The cutting edge of a cold chisel must be straight and ground to a 90° angle.
➢    The end of a taper or drift punch should be flat and without chipped edges.
➢    Chisel tips are heat-treated and must not be over-heated when ground.
➢    The striking end of chisels are left relatively soft and as a result can mushroom over after hard use. This mushroom shape must be ground off to a slight chamfer so that potentially harmful pieces don’t fly off when the chisel is struck with a hammer. Overheating is not a big issue when grinding this end but quench often to avoid burning yourself.


Fire Hazards

•    When using rags to wipe down greasy tools, clean parts with solvent, etc., be sure to dispose of them properly to avoid spontaneous combustion.
➢    Ideally place them in an approved metal safety container with a lid. Most home shops don’t have one so you should hang rags up to air out or wash them in hot, soapy water and rinse well.
➢    Never throw used rags in a heap!
•    Gasoline is extremely flammable.
➢    Transport it only in an approved container.
➢    Don’t store it in your home or near any source of ignition.
➢    Never use it as a solvent to clean parts.
➢    Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if working on a fuel system.
•    Many solvents are flammable. Be sure to read and follow any precautions for the product.
•    Fires may be started in many ways including an electrical arc, a burning cigarette, sparks from a grinder or a hammer striking steel, or a trouble-light shattering when sprayed with gasoline from a fuel system leak. Be aware of your surroundings and potential sources of ignition when working with flammable liquids.


Automotive Batteries & Electrical Systems

A word of caution when working around automotive electrical systems. While there is no concern about electrical shock from a 12 volt battery, these devices can be very dangerous because of the high current they can produce and the chemicals involved.  

One battery terminal, usually the negative, is connected to the vehicle frame and metal body. This is called the ground-side or circuit. The second battery terminal connects to other parts of the electrical system via wires with metal connectors on the ends and is called the insulated-side or circuit.  Joining any one of the insulated-side connectors to any grounded metal part of the vehicle is called a short circuit and should be avoided at all costs. An accidental short circuit is easily made with a screwdriver shank, wrench, other metal tool, or a piece of metal jewelry you forgot to remove.

You are strongly advised to refer to a good maintenance manual for your vehicle before working on or near the electrical system. Follow all safety precautions.
•    If you will be working on or near electrical terminals it is safest to first disconnect the ground terminal from the battery. Do not disconnect the insulated terminal as an accidental connection between it and any grounded metal part will result in a short.
•    An electrical connection between the two battery terminals (a short circuit) will result in serious sparking and rapid heating. The tool may actually weld in place making it difficult to remove and in seconds it may get so hot is will glow.
•    Batteries work by converting chemical energy to electrical energy. When a battery charges it may produce hydrogen gas, which is highly explosive. A spark or other source of ignition can set off the hydrogen gas causing the battery case to explode, throwing strong acid and plastic debris a considerable distance.
➢    Battery acid is very dangerous. Immediately flush eyes or skin exposed to acid with large amounts of water and then bathe with a mixture of baking soda and water. Seek medical aid as soon as possible, especially if the eyes were splashed.
➢    Battery acid will eat clothing quite rapidly. Flush with water and then neutralize with a baking soda and water mix to minimize damage to the fiber.
•    When using jumper cables to start a vehicle with a dead battery follow a safe procedure which minimizes the risk of a spark near the battery. Refer to an automotive manual for details.

Contact Us

Seattle Tool Canada
#205-19148 27th Avenue
Surrey, B.C.
Canada V3S 5T1
Our Toll Free Number: 1 888 858 8665

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