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OSHA Sledgehammer Safety

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Sledgehammers, or large hand tools with a weighted head and elongated wooden or fiberglass handle, are used by a wide variety of industry professionals. Because of their ability to apply force, sledgehammers can be dangerous if not used properly in the workplace. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued some guidelines for the safe use of sledgehammers and other hand tools.

Equipment Check

Sledgehammers need to be checked before, during, and after use for signs of cracks on the handle, and tightness of the head. Using a sledgehammer that is damaged or loose can potentially cause the head to fly off and injure those in the area.

Proper Use

Because of the change in weight distribution while using a sledgehammer, it can cause muscular back problems if not swung properly. Sledgehammers should always be swung using two hands, lifting the weight of the head with the legs and core, not the back muscles. Proper safety equipment like hard hat, gloves, elbow pads and neck protection should be worn at all times.

Tool Assignment

Be sure to select a properly sized sledgehammer which fits the criteria of the job and strength level of the worker. According to the OSHA mandate 1926.301 on hand tools, employers are responsible for issuing hand tools that are maintained and safe for use.


Tommy Doc is a 2007 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and an aspiring Internet entrepreneur. He was the sports editor for "The Pennsylvania Independent" while attaining his bachelor's degree in communications and environmental science. Doc is from Atlantic City, N.J. but has lived in Philadelphia, San Diego, New York and currently resides in Austin, Texas.

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