Tools of the Trade
Keep ’em safe to keep ’em flying
By Fred Workley
Have you ever taken the time to read all the fine print on the placards on the tools and equipment that you may use every day? Look around and note the number of pieces of equipment in your shop with big caution signs and a lot of small print. Most equipment manufacturers are very concerned about the safety of their products. Why are they more than willing to provide advice and engineering information to ensure safe operation of their equipment? They want to keep their customers and potential customers safe. They also want to minimize their liability should any adverse legal action arise.
Everyone should be knowledgeable of the equipment and tools they are using as well as the hazards that are present and how to control these hazards. No person should undertake a job that is unsafe. It must be common practice to have all mechanical safeguards in place. Appropriate safety glasses, face shields, gloves, etc., must be used while working with hand tools or equipment that might produce flying material.
Hand tools and hand-operated equipment
Some questions to consider when using hand tools and hand-operated equipment include:
• Are all tools and equipment in good condition?
• Do you know the possible hazards that are caused by faulty or improper use of hand tools?
• Are hand tools such as chisels, punches, etc., which develop mushroomed heads during use, replaced or reconditioned as necessary?
• Are broken or fractured handles on hammers, axes and similar equipment promptly replaced?
• Are cutting edges kept sharp so that tools will move smoothly without binding or skipping?
• Are tools in a dry and secure location where they are kept clean and accounted for?
Portable, power-operated tools and equipment
• Are power tools used with the correct shield, guard, or attachment as recommended by the manufacturer?
• Are portable circular saws equipped with guards above and below the shoe and are the guards checked to assure that they do not wedge up thus leaving the lower portion of the blade unguarded?
• Are rotating or moving parts of equipment guarded to prevent physical contact?
• Are guards in place over belts, pulleys, chains, and sprockets on equipment such as air compressors?
• Are all cord-connected, electrically operated tools and equipment effectively grounded or have at least approved double insulated construction?
• Is hoisting equipment marked with weight ratings and inspected periodically?
• Are ground-fault circuit interrupters used on all temporary electrical circuits over 15 to 20 amps?
• Are hydraulic and pneumatic hoses on power equipment checked often for damage and deterioration?
• Do you always take the time to unplug the pneumatic drill or electric drill before you remove or replace a drill in a drill chuck?
"Power-actuated tool in use"
Power actuated tools are of special concern. Are you trained to use power-actuated tools? In some states, certain power-actuated tools require a valid operators card. Is each power-activated tool stored in its own lockable container when not in use? Some work areas require a conspicuous sign of least seven by ten inches in boldface lettering saying "POWER-ACTUATED TOOL IN USE" be posted while the tool is being operated. These power-actuated tools must be left unloaded until they are actually ready to be used. Do you inspect these tools daily for defects or obstructions? Do all power-actuated tool operators use appropriate personal protective equipment such as hearing protection, safety goggles, hard hats and safety shoes?
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