Even with a basic hand tool, you can make a wrong move if you don’t work safely.

Don’t use a screwdriver as another tool. Your screwdriver is not a crowbar. It is not a chisel. It is not a shim. It’s a screwdriver.

In 1946, Canadian scientist Louis Slotin was testing the “criticality” of fissile materials at Los Alamos. (“The objectives of criticality safety,” according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, “are to prevent a self-sustained nuclear chain reaction.”) He used his screwdriver to support a beryllium-coated hemisphere atop another in an experiment. The screwdriver slipped and the two hemispheres touched, causing a reaction and releasing radiation. Slotin used his body as a shield to attempt to protect other people in the room. He died nine days later.

Most of us won’t be working with fissile materials. But a screwdriver, because it’s one of those tools that everyone has on hand, is often misused for tasks it was not made to do.

When you use a screwdriver, use one with the correct head (whether flat-blade, Phillips, Pozidriv, or other) and size for the screw you are driving. This applies whether you are power-driving screws or manually driving them. Using the wrong size of blade makes it more likely that the tool will slip when you apply force. The handle should be gripped firmly, and the blade should be reasonably sharp, not worn and dull. The shank should fit well to the handle and the handle should be clean, not gunky.

Depending on the task, you should likely wear safety glasses. So, wear safety glasses. If you are working on electrical equipment, shut off the electricity first. Use a clamp on workpieces so they don’t slip around. Don’t lean on your screwdriver or hammer on it to put a screw in.

You can easily use a surprising amount of force when you are using this tool, and if something slips or goes south, that force is going to send the screwdriver itself or bits of whatever you are working on in unpredictable directions at velocity. The screwdriver is a great tool. Use it safely and well.