Tool Safety: Some tips on reducing tool-related injuries

Tool Safety by Joe Escobar The working environment of an aircraft mechanic is filled with hazards. From toxic chemicals to high sound levels, we must always be diligent at working safely. But one area that can sometimes be neglected is in...

In order to protect yourself from shock and burns, electric tools must have a three-wire cord with a ground and be plugged into a grounded receptacle, be double insulated, or be powered by a low-voltage isolation transformer. Note that whenever using an adapter to accommodate a three-wire plug into a two-hole receptacle, the adapter wire must be attached to a known ground. The third prong must never be removed from the plug.

Double-insulated tools provide potection against electrical shock without third-wire grounding. On double-insulated tools, an internal layer of protective insulation completely isolates the external housing of the tool.

The following general safety guidelines are applicable to working with electric tools:
• Operate electric tools within their design limitations.
• Store electric tools in a dry place when not in use.
• Do not use electric tools in damp or wet locations unless they are approved for that purpose.
• Ensure that cords from electric tools do not present a tripping hazard.

Pneumatic tools
There are several safety issues concerning pneumatic tools. Foremost of them is the danger of getting hit by one of the tool's attachments (such as a rivet set).

Pneumatic tools must be checked to see that the tools are fastened securely to the air hose to prevent them from becoming disconnected.

If an air hose is more than 1/2 inch in diameter, a safety excess flow valve must be installed at the source of the air supply to reduce pressure in case of hose failure.

The same general precautions should be taken with an air hose that are recommended for electric cords because the hose is subject to the same kind of damage and can also cause tripping hazards.

When using a rivet gun or air hammer, always install a safety clip or retainer in order to prevent the set from being ejected during operation. Never point rivet guns toward anyone or "dead-end" them against yourself or anyone else.

Noise is another issue associated with pneumatic tools. Wear appropriate hearing protection as required.

These have been some general safety guidelines when working with tools. Ultimately, it boils down to awareness. By being aware of the hazards posed by the tools and being alert to our surrounding work environment, we can help avoid tool related injuries in the workplace. AMT

The information in this article is from OSHA's booklet "Hand and Power Tools" OSHA 3080. To download this or other OSHA documents, you can go to You can also find links to other Safety and Compliance websites on

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