Protecting Yourself at Work: Tools of the Trade

Uncategorized May 12, 2020

Originally posted on July 31st, 2017 by Dustin B. Denson

About a couple of months ago I was reported because somebody was concerned by me carrying a clip-on folding knife (tactical folder) in my pocket at work. Consequently, I received an email from my supervisor (I have a great supervisor and I place no blame on her. She was just doing her job and I would expect no less.) expressing the concern with a reference to the employee handbook, which states that, "Employees, visitors, ... including those with a license to carry a handgun, are prohibited from bringing firearms, knives, clubs or other prohibited weapons..." Of course, "knife" is not defined. So, does that mean any knife or only illegal (prohibited) knives. The state of Texas defines an illegal knife as being OVER five and one-half inches (That's all about to change when September 1st rolls around, however. Change for the better, that is, for those who are pro-knife.). The employee handbook policy uses a disjunctive (an "or") suggesting that the word "prohibited" also refers to knives and clubs. If "prohibited" means "illegal", then any knife that I MIGHT carry is not illegal according to the state of Texas, because they are most definitely under five and one-half inches. I don't know what that person thought they saw or precisely how the employee handbook is supposed to be interpreted, but that is beside my present point.

It's also unclear, given the employee handbook policy, what would count as a knife and what wouldn't. I have small, medium, and large collapsible pliers that I may carry with me because it is a very useful tool to have whenever you may need it. These usually have small knives on them. Fingernail clippers sometimes also include a small knife. Without any reference whatsoever to size or type, many things could be considered a "prohibited" knife.

Carrying a knife of any kind used to be common place and not much was thought about it. I suppose in today's society of overreaction, fear, and loss of common sense when some people see a knife (or weapon of any kind I suppose) they jump to conclusions, assume the worst about the person who is carrying it or owns it, and believes something along the lines: "Knife bad, person bad, me good, me stop, praise me". So, in their self-righteous indignation this self-proclaimed "do-gooder" feels compelled to express their "concern" without using any cognitive faculties to reason as to whether the person with the knife is a bad person and not responsible enough to carry a knife. Law can encourage ignorance and stupidity while stifling common sense, reason, intelligence, and education if allowed. There is nothing wrong or immoral about a person carrying a tool for self-defense or personal protection. It is not a sin. However, again, that is beside my present point.

When it comes to self-defense, there are no weight classes. Personal protection tools are necessary equalizers in many cases if you really have to protect yourself. There are many tools available for personal protection and self-defense at the work place. Here are a few:

 Pens (Tactical) and Pencils

Pens and pencils are great self-defense tools that are easily found and readily available at all workplaces. These can be held in an ice-pick grip while delivering forehand and backhand strikes to your attacker, attacker's appendages, or just strike in front of your face to protect yourself and keep them away. Any pen or pencil will do, but tactical pens are excellent for this and make great gifts. If you want to learn more about tactical pens and there use click here.

 Letter Opener

In this age of electronic mail, letter openers are probably rare and a bit antiquated. However, a sturdy and reliable letter opener can provide excellent protection if utilized in the same fashion as mentioned previously with pens and pencils. You can even find "tactical" letter openers.

Fork/Butter Knife

Of course, if you opt to use your eating utensils to protect yourself, make sure they are metal. Do not use plastic utensils, they will break. Forks and knives can be used as described above while held in the reverse or "ice-pick" grip.


There are many brands of tactical flashlights being sold in all price ranges. Many are constructed to withstand impact and are actually designed for this to be used for self-defense. Consequently, they make excellent personal protection tools and can be carried anywhere, even work.

Screwdriver/Adjustable Wrench

These may not seem like common items to find in the workplace, but most places of business will have these items laying around because what place of employment doesn't have a need for a screwdriver or adjustable wrench? Protective strikes can be executed with these items in the same way as described above with forehand and backhand strikes.


Finally, scissors make an obvious and excellent selection for self-defense. When held in reverse grip, they can also be used to execute protective strikes both forehand and backhand.

These are just a few examples of items that can be found around the workplace that can be used as personal protection tools. I'm certain there are many other examples of items around the workplace that can be used for protection if the need arises. Be sure to find a qualified martial arts instructor who can show you how to utilize items like the ones above to protect yourself. Do you have any ideas about items that can be found at work to utilize as personal protection tools? If so, let me know in the comments below.

As an Amazon affiliate, if you go through the links above and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I receive a commission.  Thank you!


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