According to NHS records in the UK, around 200,000 DIY enthusiasts, end up having an accident, that leads to some form of hospital admission.
Now by far the worst culprits are knives and they accounted for just over 10% of accidents. The everyday hammer though came in at number 4 on the tool causing accident list, after saws and grinders.
What was also interesting about reading through those records was that, the DIY materials involved in DIY accidents, was wood, followed by concrete blocks and in third place was the very humble nail. We all know what we use to whack those in.
In fact over 15,000 hospital incidents happened due to damage done to the body by some type of nail.
What you can take from this is that, according to NHS records, 6,000 accidents are caused by hammers, and do require hospital treatment. 15,000 incidents were down to some type of nail being used.
That does not take into account the number of people who bang their nails or fingers with a hammer. I dread to think what that number might actually be.
Personally I have done it any number of times, and the expletives are never pleasant.
How Do the Injuries From a Hammer Happen?
There are a few different reasons why these accidents happen. I have listed the most common reasons below:
- The most common is using the wrong type of hammer, and hitting the fingers or nails. In the main, that is caused by using the wrong hammer for the wrong job. For example when tapping in panel pins, you should use a small pin or tack hammer, and not your normal everyday claw hammer.
- The second reason is the head flying off the hammer. This happens more when there is a wooden shaft attached to a metal head. Most modern hammers will have a tubular steel handle, or better still a single forged piece.
- Hitting another metal object and sliding off or chipping off metal. Most frequently, this is where a hammer strikes a metal chisel, and a piece flies off the chisel
- Prising off boards using a claw hammer. Lots of people use the claw of a hammer to prise up floorboards, or to remove plasterboard etc. Often these can slip and cause cuts and bruises to the hands.
How to Avoid Becoming Another Hammer Statistic?
There are a few things that you can do to minimise the risk of becoming another hammer statistic. Once again, we have listed these below.
- Always check that the head of your hammer is not loose. If it is don’t use. Buying a hammer is not an expensive purchase, and will keep you safe.
- Use the right hammer for the job. Most home owners only have one hammer around the home, and they use it for every job. It is worthwhile in having the right hammer for the right job. You can read our article here on picking the right hammer for any given task.
- Never use the handle of the hammer for prising anything, or tapping anything. The only thing that should be used for is to make sure that you have a good grip. Always check the grip is still effective, and that the handle is free from oil or grease
- Wear safety goggles. No they don’t look pretty, and yes they do keep your eyes safe. Is it really worth losing an eye just because you don’t own a £3 pair of safety goggles? Sadly many people will ignore this great advice.
- Over time even good quality hammers get damaged. They develop chips on the head, and can even develop what is called a mushroom head. When they get into that condition, you can do some maintenance on the head using a bench grinder, but probably better to bin it, and buy a new one.
- When using your hammer with a chisel, check both tools and especially for mushroom heads. If a bit of metal flies off either tool, it can easily hit your eye, and that can result in permanent damage.
Hammer Accidents in the UK Increasing
What is interesting is that despite hammers being made of better quality, the number of accidents from them is slightly on the increase. When it comes to accidents that require hospital treatment, the main culprit is still crushed or broken fingers.
The main cause of that is simply using the wrong hammer for the job. Tapping in small nails with a large hammer is just a bad idea. Likewise using a normal hammer instead of a brick hammer on cement blocks is also a very bad idea. Not all hammers are created the same, and each has its own specific purpose.
So the bottom line is, like an tool, a hammer can be dangerous. Always were good eye protection, and make sure you are using the right hammer for the job.