11 Safety Tips When Handling Hand and Power Tools

    June 24, 2024 AMPP

    The use of hand and power tools for DIY home improvement projects and on construction jobsites is commonplace. Handling these devices is second nature to many people. Unfortunately, that’s precisely why so many individuals tend to overlook the hazards they can pose.

    Each year, thousands of people end up in emergency rooms due to accidents involving hand and power tools. In most cases, mishaps take place due to a tool’s misuse. However, many people sustain serious injuries due to much simpler things, such as not using any safety gear.

    These types of errors can be avoided easily by recognizing potential hazards and taking precautions. The following tips should help any beginner — or, perhaps, a seasoned pro who’s become a bit too comfortable — stay safe.

    1. Use Personal Protective Equipment

    If you can’t engineer out the threat, then using personal protective equipment (PPE) should be your first precaution. If you haven’t already, purchase a pair of safety glasses. These will protect your eyes from debris, dust, fiberglass, and shavings. In the same manner, a pair of earplugs will protect your hearing. Don’t forget, even the best power tools can still be loud.

    Keeping your hands safe is just as important. Use a pair of gloves that fit your hands and the environment well. They shouldn’t inhibit your movement and impair dexterity. If you’re working at heights or in confined spaces, you’ll also need a proper safety helmet.

    2. Dress Right

    When handling hand and power tools, you also need to dress for the job.

    Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing, jewelry, and neckties. Remove dangling objects of any kind before you start working. If you have long hair, tie it behind your head so that it doesn’t get in your way. When it comes to footwear, non-slip boots are recommended.

    3. Educate Yourself

    All hand and power tools come with instruction manuals, and these exist for good reasons. Even a split second of improper operation can cause a life-threatening injury. For that matter, reading the manual thoroughly is non-negotiable.

    Demonstrating how to use a tool isn’t the manual’s only value. Most of them also provide information on increasing the user’s safety and troubleshooting problems. Get to know your tool to help reduce the risk of an injury.

    4. Regularly Inspect Your Tools

    All tools require periodic checks. Constant use causes wear and tear. Don’t take any chances, even if your tools are brand new. Routine inspections are the key to staying safe.

    Check your devices for loose cracks, breakage, damaged plugs, and exposed wires. If you’re at work, ask the boss to replace the damaged tool with a proper one. Never forget that using a damaged tool is a recipe for disaster.

    5. Keep Your Work Area Clean

    Another thing that can result in an injury is a hazardous working area. Your environment itself can pose a major risk to your safety. Keeping the workspace clean is vital to staying out of harm’s way.

    Clean up the clutter — a floor with tangled cords can be extremely dangerous. Keep your power tools away from flammable liquids. If you’re at home, ensure that the place is child-proof. Remove all starter keys and master switches, and use padlocks wherever possible.

    6. Be Extra Cautious With Power Tools

    Unlike hand tools, power tools use electricity and are much more powerful. Having a quality circular saw, for example, may allow you to finish a project quicker and easier. Due to their power, however, these tools are also much more dangerous.

    Corded tools should never be carried by their cords. These wires need to be kept away from sharp edges and heat sources. Accidental starting is another hazard. When carrying a plugged-in tool, avoid holding your finger on the trigger.

    7. Turn the Tools Off After Use

    Leaving your tools plugged in and in “stand by” mode should be avoided at all costs. It can create serious problems for people who don’t realize that the tool is powered. To prevent future injuries and accidents, always turn them off after each use.

    Make sure that your device is shut down, unplugged, and properly stored. Once unplugged, store the tool into its original casing. Again, if you’re working at home, be sure to place it somewhere out of children’s reach.

    8. Use Proper Lighting

    Another workplace situation that causes injuries is the lack of proper lighting. People often overlook the importance of having a properly lit working environment. When used in dimly lit conditions, power tools can be deadly.

    If your work area’s light isn’t bright enough, make sure to use or bring in additional lights. You’ll need lots of bright, shadow-free light. If you can’t see what you’re doing, you’re asking for trouble.

    9. Ground All Tools

    Is your tool equipped with a three-prong, grounding-type plug or an approved three-conductor cord? If it is, you’ll have to plug it into a three-hole electrical receptacle. If you’re using an adapter to connect to a two-hole receptacle, you’ll have to attach the wire to a known ground.

    Be extra careful when you have to work in wet or damp locations. Keep your feet and hands dry. Put a rubber mat on the ground, place a wooden stool on it, and sit on the stool while working. By doing this, you’ll reduce the risk of electrical shocks.

    10. Maintain a Firm Grip and Balance

    As their name suggests, power tools are powerful. For that matter, it is of paramount importance to stay in control of them at all times. Besides using non-slip footwear, you also need to plant your feet and maintain a good balance.

    Keeping a firm grip is just as important, especially with handheld tools. Losing control is guaranteed to create a hazardous situation. If you feel that a tool may be too heavy for you, do not use it.

    11. Stay Calm and Confident

    Keeping your cool while handling these devices is the key to staying safe. This is especially true for power tools. They need to be handled with care and respect.

    Don’t get reckless if things aren’t going the way you’d like. Take a break, calm down, and only then resume working on the project. Stay away from power tools if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, feeling unwell, in pain, distracted, or tired. Staying safe is easy when you think ahead!

    This article by was originally published online for CoatingsPro Magazine on 10/1/2020. Republished with permission. 

    About the Author

    Kevin Jefferson has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). For more information, contact: Kevin Jefferson, https://plainhelp.com

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