Hand and Power Tools

Hand and power tools are a common part of our everyday lives and are present in nearly every industry. These tools help us to easily perform tasks that otherwise would be difficult or impossible. However, these simple tools can be hazardous and have the potential for causing severe injuries when used or maintained improperly. Special attention toward hand and power tool safety is necessary in order to reduce or eliminate these hazards.

The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance:

  • When using saw blades, knives, or other tools, cut away from yourself and direct the tools away from aisle areas and away from other employees working in close proximity.
  • Knives and scissors must be sharp; dull tools can cause more hazards than sharp ones.
  • Never modify a tool to increase its leverage or force.
  • Wrenches must not be used when jaws are sprung to the point that slippage occurs.
  • Impact tools such as drift pins, wedges, and chisels must be kept free of mushroomed heads.
  • The wooden handles of tools must not be splintered.
  • Iron or steel hand tools may produce sparks that can be an ignition source around flammable substances. Where this hazard exists, spark-resistant tools made of non-ferrous materials should be used where flammable gases, highly volatile liquids, and other explosive substances are stored or used.

To prevent hazards associated with the use of power tools, workers should observe the following general precautions:

  • Never carry a tool by the cord or hose.
  • Never yank the cord or the hose to disconnect it from the receptacle.
  • Keep cords and hoses away from heat, oil, and sharp edges.
  • Disconnect tools when not using them, before servicing and cleaning them, and when changing accessories such as blades, bits, and cutters.
  • Before plugging in a power tool, make sure it’s in the “off” position.
  • Keep all people not involved with the work at a safe distance from the work area.
  • Always wear safety glasses when there is a danger of flying wood, metal or other particles.
  • Secure work with clamps or a vise, freeing both hands to operate the tool.
  • Avoid accidental starting. Do not hold fingers on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool.
  • Maintain tools with care; keep them sharp and clean for best performance.
  • Follow instructions in the user’s manual for lubricating and changing accessories.
  • Be sure to keep good footing and maintain good balance when operating power tools.
  • Wear proper apparel for the task. Loose clothing, ties, or jewelry can become caught in moving parts.
  • If you must work in a wet area, keep the power cord clear of wet surfaces or use a GFCI.
  • Remove all damaged portable electric tools from use and tag them: “Do Not Use.”