Power Tool Safety A to Z

Power Tool Safety A to Z Quick tips for optimum safety and performance By Michelle Garetson May/June 2001 The importance of adhering to proper power tool usage guidelines and practices can’t be stressed enough. It is hoped that...


Power Tool Safety A to Z

Quick tips for optimum safety and performance

By Michelle Garetson

May/June 2001

The importance of adhering to proper power tool usage guidelines and practices can’t be stressed enough. It is hoped that these quick tips will remind people to take a common sense approach with them to the shop floor.

A is for Always be Alert when using any power tool.
Battery-powered, electrical and pneumatic tools all have unique characteristics and operating instructions. While not every power tool warrants extensive study, a thorough understanding of the capabilities, as well as limitations of power tools should be in order BEFORE turning the switch to the "On" position. Concentrate on the task at hand. Never operate power tools when fatigued, ill, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

B is for Battery-power.
These tools are great for getting into spaces and places where electric or pneumatic tools can’t. Still, as battery-powered tools have constant "power" with the batteries installed, the potential is there for inadvertent or surprise start-ups. Be sure to click switches to a locked-out position. Store battery packs away from conductive objects that could bridge and short-circuit battery terminals, which could result in a fire.

C is for Check power Cords.
Frequent cord inspection is crucial for operator safety. Fraying, cuts, loose connections and other unsafe characteristics can cause damage to the tool and injury to the operator. Problematic cords and plugs should be removed from service and labeled "Do Not Use" until they can be repaired.

D is for Don’t use shop air to clean the floors.
Debris can scatter into eyes, ears, nose, lungs as well as become FOD inside engines and components.

E is for Electricity.
Don’t be shocked by its power. Respect it. Electric tools should feature an electrical test label stating that it has successfully passed inspection and tests for safety. Underwriters Laboratories Inc.(UL) provides testing and safety ratings for electrical and other products.

F is for Footing.
Ladders, portable manlifts, or scaffolding should be the the correct height and properly anchored to provide optimum stability and utility. Overreach is a major cause of portable power tool accidents.

G is for Goggles and Glasses.
Eye protection is critical when using power tools. Debris resulting from drilling or grinding can shoot up into the eyes in an instant.

H is for Hands.
Protect fingers and hands from musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome or "white finger" disease, also known as "Traumatic Vasoplastic Disease," which is caused by the combination of vibration and cold air over prolonged exposure. Limiting the time spent using pneumatic tools can help to avert this condition.

I is for Inspect.
Inspect tools and power sources regularly to maintain safe operation. Inspection of the work area is also in order to keep litter and liquids cleaned up.

J is for Jewelry.
Jewelry, rings, watches can pose safety risks when operating power tools. While you may declare undying love to your spouse, fusing your wedding ring to your finger is no way to prove your devotion.

K is for Keep work areas free from clutter.
Trailing cords and mislaid tools can trip up tool users trying to move around while operating power tools. Tool control helps with efficiency, inventory management, and safety.

L is for Liquid.
Liquids and power tools don’t mix. Clean up any spills immediately and be sure to remove power tools and cords from wet areas.

M is for Manual.
If you don’t know how the tool is used, read the manual BEFORE operating the equipment.

N is for Noise.
Hearing protection should be worn when operating power tools. Pneumatic drills register at around 120 decibels (dBA). Prolonged exposure to noises over 85 dBA can result in permanent hearing loss.

O is for OSHA.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration standards are in place for your protection. www.osha.gov.

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