- Drawing the knife towards you instead of away from your body.
- Working with a dull blade. (Dull blades require more pressure, increasing the potential for injury).
- Trying to cut more than the knife can handle.
- Improperly storing the knife with the blade extended.
- Failing to wear personal protective equipment like cut-resistant gloves.
- Neglecting to inspect the tool before use.
The following are safety precautions to keep in mind when using utility knives:
- Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes in case a blade breaks.
- Always use a sharp blade. They are safer than a dull blade.
- Wear cut resistant gloves and sleeves (at least level 3) to protect your hands, fingers and arms.
- Hand a utility knife to a co-worker with the handle first and blade down.
- Consider using a rounded tip blade if the application allows for such.
- Ensure the blades are positioned properly in the handle before use.
- Keep extremities out of the cutting path.
- Do not apply too much pressure on the blade.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions when changing blades.
- Do not use utility knives to pry loose objects.
- Dispose of dull or broken blades in a puncture-resistant container.
- Use the buddy system! Have a co-worker help in the cutting process; whether it is to hold the material being cut or ensuring that the worker cutting has the correct PPE and is cutting correctly, etc.
These safe work practices can prevent injuries from occurring. It is up to every one of us to understand and utilize these practices so we can all go home safely. Utility knives are extremely handy on the job, but they can also be handy in causing serious injuries.