What Happens After You Tag Tools “Do Not Use”?

Sunday, November 12, 2023

As a supervisor, you’ve trained your crew to inspect tools and equipment before they use them. And they do. So, every once in a while, someone brings you a damaged or broken tool. You can tag it, DO NOT USE, but the tag itself doesn’t solve the safety issues that broken tools and equipment can present.

Taking Necessary Actions to Increase Safety After Tools are Tagged

Let’s say a worker brings you a ladder with a broken rung. Which of the following is the BEST plan?

  1. Write DO NOT USE on the side rail with a permanent marker. 
  2. Take the broken ladder into the trailer and stash it behind your desk.
  3. Disable the ladder by removing the other rungs and putting it in the scrap-metal dumpster.
  4. Repurpose it as a barrier, to keep workers away from a scaffold.

If you want to make sure that no one will use the broken ladder and get injured, then your best bet out of those choices is #3. Disable the ladder completely and put the remains in the scrap-metal dumpster.

Your Immediate Goal When Finding Something Damaged On-site 

The immediate response necessary is to make it clear to those who may not know, that the damaged tool is unsafe and off limits. The following tips will keep your crew safe:

  1. A tag that says DO NOT USE has to be clear and readable from any angle.
  2. Tags should be difficult to remove.
  3. They should be readable by all of the people on the job site, no matter what language they speak.
    *When you talk with your crew about tagging unsafe equipment, take the time to find out how to say and write “DO NOT USE” in their language, whether it’s English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Polish, or something else.

The Ultimate Goal For Tagged Items on The Job-Site

The ultimate goal here is to keep your people safe by either discarding the tool into the proper waste stream, or having it repaired by a qualified repair person. Until it is off your job site, make certain that it is clearly identified as out of service and that it is not used!

Creating A Safety Plan for Broken or Damaged Tools 

Your safety plan for handling broken and damaged tools might include a list of electronics recycling facilities, a contact person for a community tool bank that accepts and refurbishes broken tools, or a scrap-metal collector.