7 Safety Tips When Using a Utility Knife

Stained, yellow utility knife laying on a piece of wood.

A utility knife, sometimes called a box knife or carpet knife, is a small, lightweight knife that is used for cutting through cardboard, opening boxes, cutting ropes, and in craft work.

There are different sizes and varieties of utility blades, all of which have sharp blades that can be retracted into the plastic or metal body when the knife is not in use. In some utility knives, you have the option of extending the blade to different lengths, depending on the cutting job.

Though this is a small, portable cutting tool, you must follow certain safety requirements to avoid injury and accidents.

1. Keep the Blade Retracted when Not in Use

A utility knife has a sharp blade that can injure anybody who touches it by accident. As soon as you complete a cutting job, retract the blade into its plastic housing. Never pass on the blade to someone else as soon as you finish cutting.

The other person’s hand may get a severe cut. Make it a practice to store utility knives in a closed, protected location with your other tools. This will prevent the possibility of the tool landing in wrong hands.

2. Keep Your Body away from the Cutting Line

Many accidents with utility knives occur because workers hold the object with the other hand, leaving it in the path of the knife. When you make a quick cut in a straight line, the knife can injure you.

Always keep your hand and the rest of your body away from the cutting line. Make a mental note of the line that you are going to cut before you start the process.

3. Avoid Talking or Looking Away when Cutting

When using a utility knife, concentrate on the job at hand. Never look away or converse with people as you cut. It is also a good practice to keep young children away from the work area.

4. Work on a Stable Surface

If you are using a utility knife to cut open the sealing tape on a box, make sure that the box is on a clear, steady surface. This will help you avoid any tilting or tipping of the box as you cut.

If you are cutting cardboard or foam, place it on a work surface that is clear of clutter. Avoid keeping the item directly on furniture, because you will make deep scratches on the furniture with the utility knife.

5. Use Gloves

To avoid nicks and cuts, always wear cut-resistant gloves when you work, especially on the hand that is holding the object in place. In case of any slippage, you hands will be protected from the knife. You could also use a restraining device such as a clamp to hold the object in place as you cut.

6. Check the Condition of the Blade and Handle Frequently

Dull, rusted blades in utility knives can cause accidents because you need to exert a lot more force to cut. Inspect your utility knife often and ensure that the handle is sturdy. If the blade looks dull, have it replaced with a new one.

7. Avoid Using a Utility Knife for Unsuitable Tasks

Use a utility knife only for its intended purpose. Avoid using it in place of a scraper, screwdriver, chisel, or kitchen knife.