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Hand & Power Tool Safety
Introduction Everyday, tools help us build and repair a variety of things. Some tools are more powerful and dangerous than others, but any tool can cause you harm if not used properly.
Introduction Unfortunately, potential hazards are often forgotten or disregarded making work environments where hand and power tools are used unsafe for employees and bystanders.
Introduction But by learning how to handle tools correctly, and wearing the correct personal protective equipment, you can help ensure a safe work environment for everyone.
Introduction Because tools are such a routine part of our everyday lives, its easy to forget how dangerous they can be. Electric and pneumatic power tools can make performing a task easier and more efficient, while minimizing wear and stress on the body. But the same thing that makes power tools so useful, their motor-driven energy and speed, can also create potential hazards for you.
Introduction While injuries from manually powered hand tools are often less serious than injuries from power tools, hand tool injuries occur more frequently and include eye loss, fractures, punctures, cuts and bruises. Most hand and power tool hazards can be traced to either using a tool improperly or poor maintenance. But by remembering the risks and following basic safety procedures while in the shop or out on the job, accidents can be avoided.
Preparing To Work The first step in working safely with hand and power tools is to maintain a safe work environment.
Preparing To Work Make sure the lighting in the area where youll be working is adequate. Cluttered work areas invite accidents -- tools left on the floor can become trip hazards, while tools scattered on a bench or ledge can fall off and injure someone.
Preparing To Work Store tools in a dry, secure location when not in use. To prevent accidental slips, keep floors as clean and dry as possible.
Preparing To Work When working with hand and power tools dress appropriately. Before using power tools, tie back hair that is shoulder length or longer and avoid wearing jewelry or loose clothing that can catch in rotating parts.
Preparing To Work The personal protective equipment youll need to wear depends on the type of tools you will be working with. Each hand or power tool you use may require specific personal protective equipment that you should be aware of.
Preparing To Work For example, cutting, grinding, chipping and sanding are a few of the tasks that can produce flying objects or dust, and safety glasses with side shields or safety goggles are a must.
Preparing To Work If an activity generates fine or toxic dusts, check your companys written Respiratory Protection Program to determine the respirator or dust mask you will need to wear.
Preparing To Work When using power tools, hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs must be worn if noise levels reach 85 decibels or more, averaged over an 8-hour time period.
Preparing To Work In most situations, work shoes or boots with sturdy leather uppers and non-skid soles are appropriate. Choosing footwear with a reinforced toe provides additional protection against dropped equipment, while a non-conductive sole provides additional protection against hazardous electricity.
Preparing To Work Wearing the appropriate gloves can protect from splinters and minor cuts, and reduce the impact of vibration. But, when working with some power tools such as drills or saws, gloves themselves can become a hazard and should not be worn.
Preparing To Work If you have any questions about the type of personal protective equipment youll need for the tools you use, ask your supervisor.
Choosing The Right Tool Always follow the manufacturers instructions for the proper use and maintenance of hand and power tools.
Choosing The Right Tool When selecting blades, bits, cutters, grinding wheels or other attachments for power tools, the manufacturers recommendations provide the best guide.
Choosing The Right Tool Remember that each tool is designed to do only certain jobs. For example, never substitute a screwdriver for another type of tool, just because the screwdriver is handy. Using a screwdriver as a chisel or pry bar can easily cause it to break or chip, exposing you or a nearby coworker to injury.
Choosing The Right Tool Pliers are a versatile tool, but do not use them in place of a wrench. Plier jaws are flexible and non- locking, making it difficult to turn tight nuts and bolts without slipping.
Choosing The Right Tool Choosing the right tool for each task isnt just a smart safety decision – it is another way of improving productivity while turning out higher quality work.
Choosing The Right Tool Before using any tool inspect its condition to make sure it can function safely. If the handle on a tool such as a hammer or an axe is loose, splintered or cracked, the head of the tool may fly off and strike you or a coworker. Instead of taping the handle or attempting to get by – have the handle replaced before using the tool.
Choosing The Right Tool Discard wrenches that have cracked, sprung or worn jaws – they can easily slip and cause an injury.
Choosing The Right Tool With repeated use, impact tools such as chisels and wedges can develop mushroomed heads – when used in that condition, they can shatter on impact, sending sharp fragments flying.
Choosing The Right Tool To work safely, recondition or replace these tools as necessary.
Choosing The Right Tool Inspect the body of electric tools for cracks or other damage. Check that power cords are not frayed, and that plugs do not have loose or broken prongs.
Choosing The Right Tool Whether the tools power switch can be locked in the on position, or automatically shuts power off when the trigger is released, the switch should operate freely without sticking.
Choosing The Right Tool Replace drill or router bits that are dull or bent, and saw blades with teeth that are dull, chipped or missing.
Choosing The Right Tool Before mounting an abrasive wheel test it for cracks by gently tapping it with a light, nonmetallic instrument. If, instead of a clear metallic tone, it sounds cracked or dead, do not use it – the wheel could fly apart in operation.
Choosing The Right Tool Many power tools have safety guards to prevent contact with potential hazards such as rotating parts, blades, pinch points, flying particles, or sparks. Before using a power tool, check that the appropriate guards are in place and working properly.
Choosing The Right Tool A circular saw, for example, has two guards. The upper guard is fixed; the lower guard retracts while making a cut. To protect the operator from contact with the moving blade, the lower guard automatically returns to the covering position when the tool is withdrawn.
Using Tools Safely Every hand and power tool has built-in design limitations. Overloading a tool by pushing it beyond its range of safe operation can damage the tool and cause injury. For this reason, its important to operate all tools according to the manufacturers instructions.
Using Tools Safely To prevent accidental start-ups, run the extension cord to the work site before connecting it to a power tool, and, before plugging in a tool, always make sure the power switch is in the off position.
Using Tools Safely When carrying a plugged-in tool, remember to keep your finger off the start switch. To avoid creating a trip hazard or causing damage to electrical cords, keep them off of pathways or, when this is not possible, place a rollover protector over the cord.
Using Tools Safely Carrying screwdrivers, chisels, punches or other sharp- edged tools in your pocket could cause a serious injury if you trip – use a toolbelt, a cart, or a toolbox instead.
Using Tools Safely A knife should be carried in a sheath or holder, placed over the hip rather than on the front part of the belt.
Using Tools Safely When climbing a ladder, carry your tools on a toolbelt, or hoist the tools to the work location using a bucket or bag thats secured to a rope. This leaves both hands free so that you can maintain three points of contact with the ladder for safer climbing.
Using Tools Safely Only use tools around live electrical systems if you are qualified to do so. Choose pliers, screwdrivers or wire cutters that have an insulated grip, and check that the protective covering is free of cracks or holes.
Using Tools Safely If working around flammable gases, highly volatile liquids, or other explosive substances only use power tools that have been specially designed to be explosion proof.
Using Tools Safely Even metal hand tools can produce sparks that could be an ignition source. Where a flammable or explosive hazard exists, use spark-resistant hand tools made of non-ferrous materials.
Using Tools Safely When using hand or power tools, make sure your hands are free of oil and grease to prevent slipping. Before using a power saw, inspect the material to be cut for nails, staples, or other objects that could create potential hazards if struck by a rotating blade.
Using Tools Safely Take note of your surroundings before beginning any cutting or striking activity, and direct the tool away from aisle areas and other employees working nearby.
Using Tools Safely When working with pneumatic tools, the most common danger is getting struck by one of the tools attachments or by a fastener shot from the tool such as a staple or nail.
Using Tools Safely To prevent this, first, always check that the tool you will be using is securely fastened to the air hose and any attachment is secured to the tool.
Using Tools Safely Whether a tool contains a fastener or not, never point it at yourself or anyone else. Be aware that many pneumatic tools have a trigger that is easily activated – to stay safe, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to begin working.
Using Tools Safely Maintain good balance while using power tools by distributing your weight equally on both feet, and do not overreach.
Using Tools Safely Wait for the tool to achieve operating speed before beginning work. Once started, keep up a steady, even pressure, but never force the tool. Letting the tool do the work allows the bit or saw blade to cut smoothly.
Using Tools Safely To stay safe when using knives, box cutters or power saws, always make sure the blade you are using is sharp. To test a tools sharpness never run your finger along the edge – test on a piece of scrap material instead. Dull tools are dangerous because they require greater effort and increase the chance of a slip or a kickback.
Using Tools Safely When using knives and box cutters, cut in the direction away from your body. While this may feel unnatural at first, it will prevent injuries if the blade catches or slips.
Using Tools Safely When a cutting task is completed, retract the blade on a box cutter or utility knife to help ensure that no one gets hurt while carrying the tool or retrieving it from storage.
Using Tools Safely Before using such tools as saws, screwdrivers or files, secure small workpieces on a flat surface or in a vice. Never hold the material in your hand while you are working on it – if the tool slips it could cause a serious cut or puncture wound.
Using Tools Safely Before drilling, always clamp smaller workpieces to prevent them from moving. An unsecured object can become a flying projectile if a drill catches or binds.
Using Tools Safely Do not push tools beyond their capacity. Never hammer on a wrench, for instance, or use an extension, such as a pipe, to improve leverage. Instead, select a wrench with a longer handle and use penetrating oil to help loosen stuck nuts and bolts.
Using Tools Safely Avoid forcing a power tool by applying excessive pressure, this can overheat the tool and reduce operator control.
Using Tools Safely If at any time you experience unusual vibration, noise, sparking or other indications that a power tool is malfunctioning, stop work immediately and have the tool checked by a qualified individual.
Using Tools Safely To protect yourself and coworkers from electrical shock or burns, be sure power tools have either a three-wire cord with a grounding prong, or are double insulated.
Using Tools Safely Double insulated tools have an internal layer of protective insulation completely isolating the tools external housing. To check if a tool is double insulated, look for the Underwriters Lab seal and a double insulation designation.
Using Tools Safely To further protect against electrical injury, always unplug tools when not in use, before servicing and cleaning, and when changing accessories. When unplugging a tool, grasp the plug instead of yanking the cord.
Using Tools Safely To maintain a cords physical integrity, never carry an electric tool by its cord, and keep cords away from heat, oil, and sharp edges.
Using Tools Safely Remember that water is an excellent conductor of electricity and can create a dangerous path between you and an electric power source – for that reason, never use a power tool while standing in water.
Using Tools Safely When working with a power tool outdoors or in a damp environment, plug it into a GFCI-protected outlet. A GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, monitors imbalances in the flow of electricity – if current does not follow its intended path, the GFCI can quickly cut power before it travels through you and causes serious shock and injury.
Using Tools Safely Before changing pneumatic tools or attachments, or making an adjustment, always turn off the air pressure and vent the line unless the hose has a quick disconnect coupling that makes these precautions unnecessary.
Using Tools Safely Do not kink the hose to stop airflow. When a task is completed, wait for the tool to come to a complete stop before setting it down.
Using Tools Safely If not handled carefully, compressed air can be extremely dangerous. A blast of compressed air is powerful enough to drive dirt, grease or air into the body causing injury or death. For this reason, never point a compressed air gun at anyone or use compressed air to clean your clothing.
Using Tools Safely If using compressed air to clean equipment, make sure the pressure is reduced to less than 30 pounds per square inch, and use a chip guard to protect against flying debris.
Using Tools Safely Pneumatic tools should only be attached to a compressed air supply system – never to lines supplying breathing air or any type of gas as this is extremely hazardous.
Using Tools Safely Before working with a pneumatic tool, check couplings and fittings and set the air pressure according to the manufacturers specifications.
Using Tools Safely Housekeeping may seem like a simple or boring task, but removing excess sawdust, grime, moisture and other debris from your tools after each use will help keep them working properly.
Using Tools Safely To prevent accidents, as well as loss or damage to your tools, when you are finished with a task have a specific location to store each tool. Heavy-headed tools, such as sledgehammers, should be stored with the heavy end down.
Using Tools Safely Store cutting tools by covering or retracting blades, so that they cant cause injuries to someone reaching into a toolbox or drawer.
Using Tools Safely To store a pneumatic hose, begin by carefully coiling it. Avoid putting kinks in the hose by hanging it over a broad support, instead of a hook, nail, or angle iron.
Summary Without hand and power tools many of the tasks we routinely perform would be much more difficult or impossible. When we use tools everyday, however, it becomes all too easy to underestimate the hazards.
Summary If you have any questions about the hand and power tools you use, ask your supervisor. Weve come a long way since the first tools, and our awareness of how to stay safe in the workplace has also advanced.
Summary To prevent accidents or injuries from slowing you down, follow safe work practices every time you pick up a hand or power tool.
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