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 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.

P is for Pneumatic Power.
Be sure to keep air lines and hoses clear for optimum efficiency and safety. Prior to using a compressor, the air lines should be checked for water or oil that could block air flow.

Q is for Quality.
Quality of workmanship depends upon the quality of the technician and the tools he or she chooses for the task. When deciding to purchase power tools, consider how the tool will be used, how often it will be required to perform tasks, etc. and buy the best tools the budget will allow.

R is for the Right tool for the job.
Altering any tool to suit a purpose other than for what it was originally designed is strongly discouraged. Be sure to know the capabilities and limitations of power tools.

S is for Safety and Signage.
From shop floor to ceiling, safety should be considered and implemented at every level. Check with Safety managers, quality managers, OSHA, ANSI or others to be compliant with shop signs.

T is for Training.
Know all there is to know about the job at hand and the correct tools for the task to work smarter and safer. Many manufacturers and distributors offer training in the use, care and maintenance of power tools.

U is for Unplug.
Be sure to unplug any tools that aren’t being used to prevent damage from power surges. Also, removing a ground prong from a plug because the nearest outlet only has two slots is definitely not advised.

V is for Ventilation.
Proper ventilation is crucial for both worker and equipment in the shop.

W is for Workers’ Compensation.
A direct result from improper and dangerous utilization of power tools. A total of 1.7 million injuries and illnesses that required recuperation away from work beyond the day of the incident were reported in private industry workplaces during 1999, according to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor. More than 4 out of 10 injuries and illnesses resulting in time away from work in 1999 were sprains or strains, most often involving the back. The number of lost worktime cases due to bruises and contusions increased from 1998 by nearly two percent and cases of carpal tunnel syndrome increased 6 percent.

X is for Xylophone.
Serious injuries can result with improper use of power tools rendering you unable to ever play the xylophone again.

Y is for You.
You are responsible for safety. Keep safe by minimizing or eliminating distractions in the workplace where power tools are in use. Stay focused on the task and know the tool’s function and operating instructions. "Trial and error" is not the way to safely learn how to use a power tool.

Z is for Zone.
Be sure to mark hazardous zones clearly with signage and striping on floors and stairs. Keep work zones free from clutter and mop up any spills immediately. Personal protection gear should be accessible from the work zone where power tools will be used to promote worker safety and the safe operation of equipment.

AMT Power Tool Listing
The following is a listing of companies that provide power tools. Please contact them for further information about products and services.

Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Inc.
37735 Enterprise Ct. #300, Farmington Hills, MI 48331, (248) 489-1260 www.atlascopco.com
Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Inc. is your ultimate source for ergonomic power tools. With a full line of both air and electric tools, we look forward to serving your aerospace needs.

Brown Aviation Tool Supply Co.
3801 S. Meridian Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73119, (800) 587-3883, www.browntool.com
Mail order supplier of specialty aviation power tools. Largest aviation dealer of Sioux™ Air Tools in the world. Also stocking DOTCO, Taylor, and GBP CherryMax™ power tools. Visit our web site for complete product information.

Jensen Tools Inc.
7815 S. 46th St., Phoenix, AZ 85044. 800-426-1194
Jensen offers a wide variety of power tools and accessories from leading manufacturers including DeWalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, Dremel & Stanley.

Kett Tool Co.
5055 Madison Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45227, (513) 271-0333, www.kett-tool.com.
A national manufacturer and marketer of handheld power tools for manufacturing and industry. Kett Tool’s ten-page, full color catalog details its entire line of portable power saws, shears, nibblers, kits and accessories.

Mountz Inc.
1080 N. 11th St., San Jose, CA 95112, (800) 456-1828, www.mountztorque.com
Providing solutions to both common and uncommon torque applications. Products include: electric screwdrivers, hand screwdrivers, wrenches, torque analyzers, sensors, transducers, nutrunners, multipliers.

Pan American Tool Corp.
5990 N.W. 31st Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309, (800) 423-2764, www.panamericantool.com.
Pan American Tool Corp. offers precision cutting tools, cobalt NAS 907J aircraft drills, extension drills, NAS 965D threaded shank adapter drills, HSS stop countersinks and micro stop gauges, cut-off wheels and reamers. We also offer a Nova angle drill system with interchangeable heads — without use of special tools and adapters.

Sears Industrial Sales
PO Box 42538, Cincinnati, OH 45242, (800) 776-8666, www.commercial.sears.com.
Craftsman® brand air impact tools and portable electric products provide power, flexibility, and the highest quality equipment for the aircraft industry.

Sioux Tools Inc.
PO Box 507, Sioux City, IA 51102, (712) 252-0525.
Sioux Tools is a world class manufacturer of pneumatic and electric tools for a wide range of industrial applications.

Snap-on Industrial, Special Products Division
2425 W. Vineyard Avenue, Escondido, CA 92029, (800) 284-4460, www.atitools.com
Under the well-known and widely distributed ATI® brand, Special Products Division offers pneumatic rivet guns, dimpling equipment and cable swaging tools for airframe manufacturing and maintenance.

Taylor Pneumatic Tools
505 N. Railroad Ave., P.O. Box 1117, Boynton Beach, FL 33435, (561) 732-1111.
The line includes over 200 tools and accessories. New is a .45 hp Right Angle Die Grinder, the T-8859R as well as the T-7764EX Externally Adjustable Clutch Screwdriver.

U.S. Industrial Tool
15101 Cleat, Plymouth, MI 48170, (734) 455-3388. www.ustool.com
Manufacturers of quality sheet metal tools used in the repair and manufacture of aircraft. Tools include rivet hammers, rivet squeezers, rivet shavers, drilling tools, fasteners, angle drills, and more.