Given the routine use of hand and power tools on site, it can be difficult to remember that they are also very dangerous – especially if used incorrectly. Both hand and power tools carry the risk of falling, flaying, abrasive, and splashing objects, in addition to potentially emitting dust, fumes, mists, vapors, or gases. If you aren’t properly trained in the use of a tool, you can endanger not only yourself but everyone on a site. Per OSHA guidelines, here are five basic safety reminders that can help prevent hazards associated with the use of both hand and power tools:
- Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
- Use the right tool for the job.
- Examine each tool for damage before use and do not use damaged tools.
- Operate tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Provide and properly use the right personal protective equipment.
Frequently reminding yourself of these quick tips can help keep you safe when employing a hand or power tool. It’s also a good idea to collaborate with your employer to assure safe working protocols for using these tools. Though they share much crossover, hand tools and power tools also have their own unique sets of specific hazards and safety precautions, such as:
Hand tools are powered manually, such as an ax or a wrench. They have two main potential risks: misuse and improper maintenance. Though your employer is responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment, you should be aware of how to spot and account for potential risks. Pay close attention to detail – dull knives and scissors, cracked saw blades, sprung jaws on wrenches, and splintered handles should be avoided and replaced with tools in proper working condition. Also be aware that any iron or steel hand tools can produce sparks that can be an ignition source if you’re working around flammable substances.
Power tools are determined by their power source: electric, pneumatic, liquid fuel, hydraulic, and powder-actuated. Each of these can be extremely hazardous when used improperly and require guards and safety switches. All exposed moving parts of power tools – including belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, drums, flywheels, and chains – must be guarded. Safety guards must never be removed when a tool is being used. Additionally, tools such as drills, tappers, and disc sanders, among others, must be equipped with a constant-pressure switch or control that shuts off the power when released.
For the full rundown on OSHA’s guidance for working with hand and power tools, please see here.