Power tools help us to perform tasks faster and more efficiently, allowing us to accomplish complicated tasks without effort. These tools are becoming increasingly powerful, more accurate, and even safer every year. With the emergence of battery-powered tools, there is an endless amount of possibilities for these power tools to continue to improve.
As these power tools continue to improve, we still need to handle them with respect and know that there are safety rules that need to be followed. Whether or not you are experienced with these tools, you should understand that they have the power to do damage to anyone. Often times, it is the inexperienced worker that does not treat the tools with respect or the overconfident worker that does not adhere to safety rules that will get hurt or even get someone else hurt.
Whether you are using power tools commercially or for residential use, it never hurts to have a list of power tool safety rules posted not just for yourself but for everyone who may be using them.
Power Tool Safety Rules
As hand tools and power tools become a habitual part of your life whether at work or at home, the safety rules that apply to handling them can quickly become ignored and forgotten as our confidence with using them sky rockets. Though it should never be forgotten that these tools can cause serious injuries if they are not utilized appropriately. If we can keep these safety rules at the top of our mind when we are using them, we can reduce the amount of injuries from these powerful tools and keep our job sites and homes safe.
Often times this means having a list of safety rules visible on a job site and having a meeting at the top of each day to let everyone know what the day’s tasks include and reminders of safety for each task and tool that will be handled. Doing so keeps safety top of mind and keeps people mindful of the hazards of the job. For residential use, this could mean posting a list of safety rules in the garage or workshop so that they are always visible for yourself and anyone else that will be working with you. These can help to significantly reduce the chance of accident and keep people going home in one piece at the end of the day which is the most important thing.
The risk is apparent with the hundreds of thousands of emergency hospital visits and anecdotal stories you hear each year about something happening on a job site. Most of these could definitely be reduced if the tools were not misused or mishandled. Proper training is the most important thing for those inexperienced in handling these tools and should be a priority for new employees.
Knowing the potential risks of a power tool should be the first thing to address how you can safeguard against these risks. Knowing how to handle the equipment properly is also another way to familiarize yourself with the tool in your hand. The tools we use have a tremendous amount of force that should be restricted by the operator of the tool. Whether it is compressed air, electricity, chain drives, or hydraulic belts, the potential for risks should be addressed and how they can affect the individual that is using the tool or those in the immediate and surrounding area.
A lot of the rules for one tool apply to all of them and overlap, though when there is a specific rule for a tool it should be addressed to the person using it and those in the vicinity. An informed job site or workshop is a place where everyone feels safe and protected from the beginning of the day until the end. Investing in safety is of the utmost priority.
Investing in Power Tool Safety
Investing in safety equipment and the time involved in safety training on an ongoing basis can be seen as expensive, but even more expensive is the lost time or worse that comes with an unsafe work environment. Hospital expenses and the loss of production with power tool accidents is the true cost that comes with not willing to invest in safety. This is not even an option for job sites.
Systems and rules should be in place on every job site, and if you feel unsafe while on site you have the right to refuse work. There should be a safety officer or representative on the job site that you can have an open form of communication with when it comes to safety.
New employees should have adequate safety training before beginning to use power tools. Everybody at the beginning of the day should be available for a morning meeting where the tasks of the day are listed and the safety measures that are in place should be discussed. If you do not work in a safe environment like this, perhaps you should be making the changes in the workplace that you want to see by suggesting it to your supervisor.
These safety measures should not be overlooked as a homeowner either. If you just want to re-do a room in the house or want to become more handy, these steps should not be overlooked when you are working with power tools. Start with a familiarization of the tool that you will be using and what protective equipment you should be using when you are handling it. Identifying the potential hazards involved with using the tool is important as well.
At this point, you are the boss and the employee and you need to take action as such when you are doing work around the house yourself. Unfortunately being untrained, unprepared, and inexperienced, you can quickly injure yourself when using these powerful tools.
List of Safety Rules for Power Tools
Here are a few safety rules that should be followed in a list and use on your job site, in safety meetings, or at your home when you will be handling a tool.
- Familiarize yourself with the tool.
- Keep your work area clean.
- Be aware of your environment.
- Do not force tools.
- Wear the right apparel.
- Safety goggles, masks, and hearing protection.
- Inspect your tools.
- Maintain your tools.
- Secure what you are working on.
- Maintain your points of contact.
Read all of the instructions and the safety warnings that come with that specific tool and become familiar with all of the functions that the tool is capable of. Learn the limitations of the tool and never try to push that tool to those limitations. In addition to this, know the hazards that are potentially associated with the tool.
Messy areas create accidents. Having a clean work bench and floor ensures that you will not trip or fall while operating a power tool and makes sure that anything in the surrounding area will not get hit or distract you while operating a tool. Keep your work area clean of debris that may catch flame while you operate hot equipment. And make sure that your power tools are just as clean as your work area. Investing in the time to clean your tools will not only keep you safe, but will likely extend the life time of your tools.
Much like keeping your work area clean, make sure you know the environment in which you are working. Have your work area well lit for when you are working and have sufficient workspace. Those in the immediate area should keep a safe distance of the working zone and the hazards of any working zone should be well communicated to anyone within the same zone. Avoid rain and wet spaces with your power tools.
Do not force a power tool or an accessory. If it is not intended to perform a certain task or to be attached to perform a task, then it should not be forced to do so. Use the right tool for the job in any scenario.
Having loose gloves or clothing, ties, or jewelry on increases the chances of injuring yourself while on the job. Any of these loose pieces can get caught in moving parts of the power tool. Long hair should be tied up and kept away from work spaces with moving parts, long sleeves should be rolled up if necessary, and non-slip shoes with protection are always mandatory on a job site.
Having the proper safety goggles will prevent dust and other particles from hitting your eyes and causing damage. Masks are also necessary when airborne particles are caused by the power tool to avoid any respiratory failure. Also, having the proper hearing protection will keep your ears protected for years to come.
Before, during, and after you use your tools, make sure that you inspect them of any defects and listen in to it while you are using them to identify any possible defects that can be treated. Having a defective tool can cause unsafe work environments that should be addressed immediately. Document these defects and any maintenance that occurs on each tool that you have.
Just like checking your tools for defects, you should also be maintaining them on an ongoing basis and recording these on a maintenance schedule which can be checked if anything goes wrong with the tool for future reference. Follow the directions that comes with the tool in terms of maintenance as this will change from tool to tool. Store them in the correct place and never make adjustments to a tool that should not be done.
Clamps and vises are convenient tools to keep what you are working on secured in place and are much safer than using your hands to control while you are also trying to control the power tool that you are using.
You should never be overreaching while using a tool. You should always have feet firmly planted and have the proper balance in your body when you are using a power tool to ensure that you are not going to fall or slip while using a tool.
No matter how safe a power tool is designed, there will always be hazards associated with using them. All protective equipment that is recommended when using a specific tool should be used when operating a power tool. There is no exception to this. No matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient that it is for the user. Being safe is always the number one priority.
Safety procedures should be listed, visible, and understood by everyone operating tools and in the immediate area of those using tools. The more informed everyone is about safety procedures, the better it is for everyone when something does happen that involves some first aid treatment.
Identifying the potential hazards of using a specific tool is the first step in knowing what may happen and how to use it appropriately. Tools should be inspected before and after use to know whether or not there are any defects that should be addressed, and regular maintenance of tools should be documented and performed on an ongoing basis.
No matter the shape, size, or color of a power tool, they offer an enormous benefit in being able to complete specific tasks faster and more efficiently. There is no doubt that if you can complete a project with a power tool, you should invest into it. However, you should also invest into your own safety including equipment and the education that goes along with that power tool.
Safety is the responsibility of everybody.