Modifying Tools Can Lead to Hazardous Outcomes

Altering a tool design resembles the iconic scene in a bad horror movie. The movie viewers recognize the consequences of the foolhardy victim-to-be’s decision, but it is carried out anyway. Modifying tools takes the same course. As industrious as the newfound tool design might appear, the likelihood of failure leading to injury is quite high.

The reasoning behind modifying tools typically finds root in making the job easy. While this is applaudable, a negative outcome can deeply overshadow the best of intentions. The truth of the matter is that proactive measures and proper pre-job planning can steer the ship away from these troublesome waters. Avoiding the scenarios where modifications are sought eliminates the negative outcome altogether.

Pre-Job Planning

The greatest of military victories have resulted from tireless efforts and exhaustive planning. The time devoted ensures noteworthy results. The same can be said in planning job scope. Taking the time to identify a course of action can assist in compiling a tool list. 

A dry run can yield enlightening results when reviewing a step-by-step course of action and considering the manpower and tools needed. Here it might be found that large bolts may need to be removed and could be frozen in place. Precautions can be listed to ensure the correct tools are procured in case this scenario is experienced. This would eliminate employees from utilizing a segment of pipe as a cheater bar to gain leverage.

Proactive Design

Proactive behavior does not guarantee unwanted outcomes will be thwarted all of the time, but it certainly tips the odds in safety’s favor. Pre-job planning is a great start in developing a winning strategy, but the culture must be intensified.

To avoid negative scenarios, additional steps should be taken. If the job strategy identifies the need for a chisel, then the chisel must be included in the job box. This would eliminate the possibility of employees using a flat head screwdriver in its place. These are often the alternative choice to chisels, and the tips break frequently when a hammer strikes the head. More often than not, debris finds its way into the user’s eye. A trip to the hospital serves as the reward.

Instead of allowing that alternative course to take root, employees can follow a more proactive approach. If pre-job planning specifies a task that will involve a chisel, then yes, pack the chisel in the toolbox. More action is needed. What happens if the chisel dulls or breaks? That flat head screwdriver will find itself victimized.

Taking proactive measures, employees should follow a proactive approach. Employees can fight the power of the elusive flat head screwdriver by taking away even a glimpse of need. Pack extra chisels and equipment to sharpen those that are dull.

Proactive measures can guide employees to success by avoiding the need to succumb to poor behavior. Much like a roadblock, this course of action can deter users away from poor decision-making and force them down the more acceptable route.

Legal Ramifications

If the threat of potential injury does not alter one’s course, the reality of legal woes might do the trick. While that pipe welded to a wrench seems like a good idea to act as the latest invention in leverage, thought should be given to its success factor.

A certain level of pride might be exhibited by the great thinker who did the welding, and this person might swear by its ability. Are they willing to lay down a bet and gamble their future with no hesitation?

The cost of an eye injury can add up to grand sums of money. Although that new tool seemed like a good idea, if it fails, the consequences will far outweigh the time it would have taken to be proactive and pack the correct and needed tools. 

Let’s not forget the liability issues as well. Injury results in payments, and someone will indeed pay. While it is doubtful that any criminal charges could be brought in tool failure, it just depends on the level of failure; the civil end might just find its way down the ladder to the very person who modified the tool. Suddenly, the pride of ingenuity metamorphoses into a long-lasting event of regret.


Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. Besides providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with nine years of experience. He also contributes to Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and Masonry Magazine. Nick has a BA in Photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. 210-240-7188