30 Tips for Hand and Power Tool Safety
More than one million people are hurt using hand and power tools every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Not only do people suffer physically, but their injuries also often hurt them financially. Their employers lose money, too. The CPSC reports injuries with hand and power tools cost $15.4 million a year in medical bills and lost work. Many of the visits to hospitals and doctors’ offices could be prevented with more attention to hand and power tool safety.
HSI’s mission is to make the workplace safer and smarter. Thus, we offer the following tips for hand and power tool safety. According to OSHA, these are the leading causes of injuries from using hand and power tools:
- Wooden handles break, causing the head of the tool to fly off and hit the user or others.
- Employees are exposed to harmful dust, fumes, or gasses.
- Workers using power tools that aren’t grounded properly get shocked.
Accidents on the job happen more frequently when employees are doing a repetitive job, something unexpected happens, or they are inexperienced or overconfident about using the tool. These tips for hand and power tool safety help employees stay safe and perform well.
Choose the Right Tools and Take Care of Them
OSHA protects employees by requiring companies to ensure their employees use safe tools and equipment and follow safety guidelines. No matter how many years an employee has under his belt, reviewing the following tips for hand and power tool safety regularly is critical to staying safe.
- Buy quality tools. Hammers with wooden handles are not as safe as those made of steel hand tools. Make sure steel tools are heat-treated.
- Regularly inspect tools to ensure they are in good condition and work properly.
- If you find something wrong with a tool, don’t use it, and report the problem to your manager.
- Perform regular maintenance on your tools, like grinding or sharpening saw blades.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Keep extra tools handy in case the tool you had planned to use is damaged.
- Make sure to store your tools in a safe place, keeping sharp edges from children and others who may get hurt trying to use the tools.
- When working up high, do not leave tools where they could fall on workers below.
Tips for Hand and Power Tool Safety - Electric Tools
Because of the potential dangers involved in using power tools OSHA provides specific safety guidelines for their use. OSHA requires many handheld power tools to be equipped with a constant-pressure switch button that cuts off the power when pressure drops including drills, tappers, angle grinders, saws, and sanders. Many power tools with blades must have safety devices that allow the user to shut the tool off in a single motion.
One of the most serious workplace injuries involving tools is electrical shock from power tools. Electrical shocks can cause heart failure and burns. Sometimes a worker is shocked while on a ladder, then loses their balance and is injured in a fall. Tips for preventing electrical shock are at the top of the list of ways to stay safe using power tools.
- Use tools that are double-insulated or have a three-pointed power cord and are plugged into a power source with a rounded receptacle.
- Do not use electric tools in wet conditions unless they are approved for that use.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or an assured grounding program. Use the appropriate PPI like face protection or leather work gloves.
- Keep your work area dry and clean to avoid slipping while working with or around dangerous electric power tools.
- Be sure to find good footing, maintain balance, and secure your work with clamps or a vise to free both of your hands for safe use of power tools.
- Never carry portable electric tools by their cords and do not yank them from the power source.
- Prevent accidental starting by keeping your fingers away from the switch button while carrying a power tool.
Tips for Using Pneumatic Tools Safely
Pneumatic nail gun accidents send 37,000 carpenters to the emergency room each year according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Most people have wounds on their fingers or hands. Sometimes, they have more serious injuries, like eye injuries.
Wearing eye and face protection is an important safety measure for working with pneumatic nail guns and OSHA watches companies carefully to make sure workers are protected. In its FY2021 report on the most frequent safety violations, OSHA reports construction companies’ failure to meet standards for face and eye protection were among the top ten violations in FY2021.
Safety experts urge construction companies to take steps to improve safety if necessary. These tips for hand and power tool safety related to pneumatic tools are a good place to improve your attention to safety.
- Verify that all parts of the tool are fastened securely before each use.
- Never point a compressed air gun at yourself or another person.
- When you are finished using an air gun, make sure the pressure is released before you break the hose connections. Never store an air gun that is loaded.
- Use a safety clip or retainer to prevent attachments from being ejected during operation, and use a chip guard when using high-pressure compressed air for cleaning. Be sure to limit the nozzle pressure to 30 pounds per square inch.
- Always wear eye protection.
- Ensure a secure work environment by using screens to protect nearby workers from flying fragments.
- Never leave tools unattended.
How to Prepare Yourself and Your Space for Staying Safe
Using tools safely includes more than knowing the tools. Employees must pay attention to what they wear, how they carry their tools, and where they stand. To protect employees from the dangers of slips and electrical shock, managers should ensure floors are kept as clean and dry as possible. Tips for hand and power tool safety include choosing the right clothing:
- Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry that can get caught in a tool’s moving parts.
- Stay safe by wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), like leather gloves, safety goggles, or face shields.
- Make sure your work area is level and you have good balance when using tools.
- Be aware of the people around you and ensure they stay a safe distance from your workspace.
- Never climb a ladder with a tool in your hand. Instead, find someone on the ground to hoist tools to you with a bucket or bag on a rope.
- Don’t carry pointed tools in your pocket. Carry them in a toolbox or cart instead.
- Use the right tool for the job. For example, don’t use a wrench to pound in a nail when you should be using a hammer.
- When appropriate, secure your project with a clamp or vise to keep it from slipping.
The Best Performance Starts with Safety Training
OSHA requires employers to train employees on the proper use of tools and equipment. Go over these tips for hand and power tool safety regularly with your employees and consider taking safety management a step further by partnering with HSI. We provide tools for engaging your employees in training and making safety top-of-mind at your company.
One HSI partner says that not only do workers enjoy the safety training and comment that they frequently learn something new, the addition of the HSI training platform and content has reduced injuries and incidents.
“we’re at 722 days incident-free...and I attribute that to training.”
Schedule a demo of the HSI training platform through our online form or by calling 800-447-3177.