This list was provided to us by Eric Parker, a mechanical engineer and tool expert.
Even though power tools help in performing a lot of tedious work in minutes, they also cause injuries and fatalities, if not used properly. Human error is the most common cause of such mishaps. Common power tools cause a large number of injuries each year in the U.S.
According to surveys, it is estimated that around 400000 emergency room visits are made each year due to injuries caused by hand and power tool. Out of these, nearly 200 injured people die. Incorrect use of nails guns or power nailers results in 37,000 emergency room visits while power drills cause around 5,800 injuries each year.
Therefore, it is important to know how to use a power tool correctly to prevent any injuries as well as reduce fatalities. Here are 30 important power tool safety tips to help you perform your work without making any emergency room visits.
1. Always buy high-quality tools
Using cheap and low-quality tools can be dangerous, especially f you do not have much experience in working with power tools. With low-quality tools, the chances of malfunctioning are quite higher. It is recommended to always invest in high-quality tools that are checked and tested for accuracy and performance. In this way, your power tools will last longer and will be safer to use.
Moreover, high-quality tools are made of best quality material and are manufactured under strict standards to ensure your safety. If you are having tools that do not meet the quality standards, its time to replace them.
2. Always use the right tool
If you are using the wrong tool for a specific job, you are likely to end up injuring yourself as well as damage your workpiece. If you do not have the right tool, it is best to wait until you get the right tool for the job.
For example, if your work needs a specific hammer, do not use just any hammer to do the job, it may cause injuries. If you do not have a hammer, avoid using a wrench in its place, instead, buy one. A wrench can easily chip and cause a hazard.
3. Ensure regular maintenance of the power tools
Power tools require regular maintenance, and if you are not doing it, you are making the biggest power tool safety mistake. Make a log for a routine tool maintenance. It will ensure that your tools are working properly and do not pose any threat.
Cleaning the tool is a must after every use. It will prevent the material from deteriorating and make it durable. If you find any damages that cannot be replaced, consider replacing the power tool. Also, avoid tools that are old as it may break down while it is in use.
4. Read the safety manual
Now, this is something that most people tend to miss out. Although reading the user manual does not seem important for simple tools, it is essential for any power tool, especially if it runs on electricity. So, before you start working with your tool, invest some time in reading the entire user manual that comes with the tool. It will list all possible dangers that you must be aware of before using it.
Reading the manual will not only ensure operating the tool in a right manner but will also increase your safety. Since different tools have specific safety tips, it is always best to gain some knowledge.
5. Wear safety glasses
With more than 700,000 thousands eye injuries at work each year, it becomes imperative to shield your eyes from any harm that can be caused while working on power tools. Protective glasses can help in preventing injuries to your eyes. You may use Plano lenses which are non-prescription lenses if you do not have an eyesight problem, however, if you use prescription glasses, go for prescription safety glasses that will help you view better while protecting your eyes from all the dirt and debris that arises from working with tools.
You can go for an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard eyewear adopted by OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for a complete protection to your eyes. Depending on your work, you may also use face shields or full-face respirators and welding helmets when working with the power tools to ensure safety.
6. Store your power tools properly
Another way to maintain power tool safety is to store them properly. If you have a tendency to forget your tools in the places where you last used it, it can be dangerous for you and for the other people living around. Special care must be taken with electrical power tools.
Always store your tools in a specific location, such as under a tool bench, so that you can grab them without any difficulty. Keep them in a dry place on shelves and make sure you pack them in their original case before storing them for a long time.
7. Keep tools out of reach of children and pets
If you have children and pets at home, you should ensure proper safety while using and storing them. Never leave any power tool unattended. It is best to use such tools when children and pets are away. To increase safety, you may evacuate the place before installing or using your power tools.
Also, store them in places, where children and pets can not reach. They may become injured if they step over a tool accidentally.
8. Avoid carrying hand tools while you are on the ladder
Many a time, you may need to work while standing on a ladder. This can put you at a risk of injury if you do not take adequate care. Carrying power tools that are handheld such as power drills can be very risky.
Since one of your hand will be engaged in holding the tool, you might not have a firm grip on the ladder. With just one hand you may lose your balanced. A functional power drill can dig into your body parts if you fall from the ladder. It is best to ask someone for help when you are using a ladder.
9. Avoid carrying tools in your pockets
Some people may try to carry small tools in your pockets to find them conveniently while working, but if you forget them, it may cause injuries to your body. Therefore, avoid keeping tools especially those which have sharp edges or a pointed end to always stay safe.
You can invest in special jackets and pouches to carry your tools along with yourself while working or just use a hard case to carry them.
10. Never wear loose clothing while working with power tools
When you are working with power tools, it is essential to dress appropriately. This will not only prevent your dresses from ruining but also ensure your safety while working.
Loose fitting dresses may get tuck on sharp objects making you fall while working with a high power tool. Loose dresses may also get tangled in tools that have rotating parts. To prevent this, wear dresses that are not very loose and you still feel comfortable in.
11. Keep your feet firmly grounded
Maintaining your balance while using tools such as power drill and saws is extremely important. It will help you to do your work more efficiently. Always wear a comfortable shoe that can help you keep your feet grounded and prevent slipping.
Also, ensure that you are wearing a shoe when working with electrical equipment. It may help in preventing an accidental shock from the equipment.
12. Take special care with electric tools
Power tools that are operated using electricity pose a greater risk to the users. They are powerful and cause a great hazard if proper power tool safety measures are not taken. Make sure you are fully attentive and are not distracted by your surroundings while operating power drills and circular saws.
Check for any damages to the blade or loosening of nuts before every use to reduce any risk. Also, wear proper shoes to avoid an electrical shock. Do not use electric tools near wet areas.
13. Make sure the floor is clean and dry
Before you start to work with any power tool, be it handheld or any other type, make sure you choose a clean and dry place to work on. If the floor is wet or slippery, it can cause you to fall down while working with such powerful tools. Also, get rid of any debris that gets deposited.
Waste materials such as wood chips can get ignited with the heat of power tool and may catch fire. Allow your tools to cool down after using it for a certain period of time. It will prevent heating up and reduce any chances of injuries caused by burns.
14. Repair a broken tool immediately
There is no point in working with a damaged tool. However, there could be certain instances when you are not able to evaluate the condition of your tool. To avoid such hazard, you must thoroughly check your tool before every use and in between use of long hours.
In this way, you will be able to spot any damage easily and get it replaced. Never, ever work with a damaged or broken tool, even if you think of using it for a few seconds. It will not only damage your workpiece but will injure you too.
15. Take special care when working at a height
If you are working at a height with workers working under you, you need to be very careful while using a power tool. Always ensure that the cord is of adequate length. Do not press the power button until you are sure. You must also take care of any falling objects on the workers that are working below.
The most hazardous part of working at a height is dropping your power tool. Therefore, make sure you have a firm grip on your tools. If you are working at home, make sure you keep children and pets away from the work area. It is best to isolate the area when you plan to work at a height.
16. Avoid carrying a power tool with the help of its cord
Some people carry their power tools with the help of the cord attached to it, but it is not the right way. Power cords are meant to supply power to the equipment and should not be used as a grip. Since most tools are heavy, carrying them with the help of the cord will loosen it and even ineffective.
Any damage to the power cord increases your chances of getting a shock. So, always hold your power tools with the help of handles and grips provided for holding it firmly.
17. Avoid pulling the cord to disconnect
Pulling the cord directly from the socket to disconnect the electrical power tools is another mistake that can cause a power tool safety hazard. It is best to remain attentive while you work and always switch off the equipment and then the main power switch before removing the plug from the socket.
18. Check for wear and tear of the cord
Inspection of the cord of electrical power tools can go a long way in maintaining your machine while preventing a hazard. Working in places where the cored is exposed to elements that can wear and tear them can pose a great danger to you and people working with the tool. It can increase the risk of shock and can even cause death.
Aging of the tools can also make cords degrade over time. Therefore, always check for any signs of damage to the cord, especially if you are using the tool after a long time.
19. Be careful when using a plugged electrical power tool
Power tools are really powerful and can run over your body if proper safety measure is not followed. It is usually seen that people forget disconnecting the power from the main plug when they finish working with their power tool.
If the tool starts working accidentally, it can cause fatal injuries to your body. Therefore, whenever you are done, simply press the off button on the tool and remove the plug to ensure a complete safety.
20. Change accessories as needed
Some power tools require changing accessories too often, these include blades of saws. Since these tools use different types of blades, you must always buy genuine parts to increase the utility of the tools while minimizing risks.
The blades and bits get blunt after a few uses and should be immediately replaced with new ones. You can buy them in advance to avoid wasting time when you are in the middle of an important DIY project. Always dispose of the used pieces safely and securely in the right place.
21. Have an extra tool
If you use hand and power tools extensively, you might consider having an extra tool to save time. This becomes more important if you are using it for your profession. In case you find any problem with the tool you are working, you can use the other one, and send the damaged one for repair or replacement of parts. Using the tool when it is not working properly can cause serious hazards.
22. Get training
Do not use a power tool if you have no idea of how to use it safely. If reading user manual does not work, it is best to get some training and hands-on experience under the guidance of a professional user.
A training session will not only increase your efficiency for using a specific tool but also help you to understand the range of damage it can cause and how to prevent. If still, you are not confident about using it, avoid working with it altogether.
23. Use safety belts
Safety belts are important if you are working on a height, whether it is outdoors or indoors. Safety belts are easily available and can be used to secure yourself from falling when you work at a certain height.
Always follow the instructions to tightly secure the safety belt, so that if you fall accidentally, it may protect you from hitting the ground. Also, carry a pouch for securely carrying your tool. When you are working with electrical power tool at a height, special care must be taken by having a firm grip on the tool.
24. Tag “Do not use” for damaged tools
Usually, our toolbox consists of many tools that we use regularly or occasionally. If you inspect irregularity in any of your tools, immediately tag them “do not use” until you get it repaired or may be replaced completely. Doing this will prevent you from accidentally using it, in case you forgot to repair it.
It will also alarm other people in the workplace or in the house who may accidentally use it without knowing about its condition and as a result, injure themselves.
25. Do not use power tools in wet areas
Wet areas are difficult to work with, especially if you are not trained to work with power tools in such areas. It will not only damage your tools but also pose a threat to you by increasing your risk of injuries. It is advisable to avoid the use of power tool in the wet area unless you are confident enough to do the job in the right way.
26. Maintain your grip on hand tools
Handheld power tools are powerful too and require special care to handle them properly. A small mistake can cause fatal injuries to your face, hands, and legs.
Whenever you work with a hand-held power tool such as a power drill or a circular saw, make sure you focus well on your work and have a strong grip on the tool before pressing the trigger. Maintain your concentration until your put off the trigger and disconnect the power tool from the main plug.
27. Be careful when plugging in a power tool
Injuries due to the accidental start of power tools are also common among its users. If your hand is on the start button or trigger while you plug in the tool, it may suddenly start and can cause a hazard. To prevent this, you must always check the power button on the machine and be certain that it is off before you plug it into the main socket.
28. Wear protective gloves
According to OSHA, it is important to wear protective gloves when using power tools. It will not only protect your hands from dirt and debris but will also safeguard against any hazard posed by the power tool.
You can wear simple tight fitting gloves for work such a drilling, while hard gloves can protect your hands to some extent from power tools. However, it is not recommended to wear loose-fitting gloves, especially if you are working with a circular or rotating tool as it can get tangled and cause injury.
29. Avoid using power tools if you are sick or unwell
Being unwell can greatly reduce your focus from work which may lead to mistakes while using a powerful tool. Also, certain medication does not allow you to work efficiently. If you are sick or are taking medicines that warn you from working with tools or driving, you must not use a power tool.
It is better to improve your health before you start to work with such machines so that you have optimal focus and attention. If you are under the influence of alcohol, you must never use a power tool.
30. Always ensure proper lighting
Working in dark places can invite injuries. If you are not able to see properly, you are likely to end up using your power tool in the wrong place. Be very cautious with cutting tools and only operate them at places exposed to adequate light. Avoid mowing lawns in low lights. Install lights over your workbench so that you can easily cut pieces with precision.
In addition to the above power tool safety tips, it is important to work in a peaceful and clean place. Stay away from distractions and always be aware of people who are working with you or are around you. If possible choose a place where there minimal disturbance. When using a power drill, make sure you secure your hands to prevent an injury from the drill bits. In case of an emergency, immediately seek help to reduce the trauma and get faster medical help.
I’m Eric Parker. I’m a Tool Expert with years of experience. I graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering from a reputed University (actually I don’t want to reveal). I love to help people to learn everything about all types of tools through blogging. I’m a tool freak having intense experience in this field.