There a plethora of tools, from power tools to hand tools, and every tool requires safety. Improper usage of any given tool can lead to injury and the potential to lose a finger, eye or other body part in severe circumstances.
Tens of thousands of emergency room visits occur every year because of accidents involving hand and power tools.
Don’t become another statistic. Proper safety measures reduce the risk of injury and help jobs get done faster.
The first step in the equation is safety gear.
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE is a must, and while a person may not need equipment when using a manual wrench, there are equipment items recommended when using a drill, saw, hammer or a variety of other tools – powered and non-powered.
The PFE most recommended includes:
- Thick industrial gloves designed to protect the hands.
- Safety glasses designed to protect the eyes from projectiles.
- Hard hats used to protect the wearer from potential falling material.
- Boots designed to protect the feet from injury.
Proper PPE can go a long way in ensuring safety of the user. If safety gear is neglected, the risks of injury are exponentially higher.
2. Read the Instruction Manual
Power tools come with an instruction manual because they can be very dangerous at times. Improper operation, even for a split second, can cause serious injury. Every manufacturer will provide an instruction manual on how to use a desired power tool.
Failure to read this manual is the user’s fault.
The manual will provide invaluable information designed to:
- Demonstrate how to use the tool.
- Reduce the risk of injury.
- Increase the safety of the user.
The manual may also provide in-depth instructions on what PPE is recommended when using a tool.
3. Maintenance and Inspection of the Tool
Quality tools need to be maintained and inspected, too. Always inspect the tool prior to usage to look for any:
Power tools that go on the fritz need to be properly maintained before usage. Routine maintenance and inspection can help prevent a silly injury from occurring,
4. Remain Cautious of the Environment
The work environment itself can be a major safety hazard. Whether using a skill saw, electric drill or a manual hammer, it’s vital to make the environment safe. The environment can include:
- People in the vicinity of the workspace.
A common hazard is the usage of power tools requiring an air compressor. The hose can pose a risk of tripping and falling for both the user and anyone else in the space. Keep the compressor hose clearly in view and warn others of the hose to reduce risks.
5. Know Power Tools Safety 101
Using power tools comes with a lot of responsibility, and this means that the user must be cautious of every move he or she makes. The tips that are recommended for proper power tool usage are many, but the most important are:
- Use the right tool for the job. The wrong tool presents a risk of injury or extending the length of the project.
- Always point the tool away from the body and face when in use.
- Never climb a ladder with the tool’s power attached.
- Properly maintain the tool and follow appropriate procedures if the tool jams.
- Wear the proper safety gear as advised in the instruction manual.
- Seek training to use the tool properly, whether in the instruction manual or on YouTube.
- Keep electrical tools away from combustible materials.
- Use only attachments that are recommended for a tool and specifically fitted for the tool.
- Use the tool with the dominant hand and never attempt operation with the weaker hand.
- Maintain a tight grip on the tool to avoid potential droppage and injuries,
- Use a manual tool if the area is out of reach or struggling to reach the area.
- Remove all power sources when refilling or maintaining the tool.
- Keep power tools in a safe location out of reach of kids and inexperienced users.
- Never walk with the finger on the tool’s trigger.
- Inspect the power cord for any potential breaks or damage prior to usage.
- Only operate the tool on material that is secure and acceptable. This means do not use a skill saw to try cutting through a material that the blade isn’t rated to work on, such as diamond.
- Never remove safety measures put in place by the manufacturer.
Common sense needs to be used when operating all types of power tools, too. This means keeping fingers and limbs out of the danger area. If another person is in the same area, they need to be made aware of the tool’s usage and also wear protective gear.
A sudden lapse in judgment can cause a serious injury to occur.
6. Screwdriver Safety 101
Hand tools, such as a screwdriver need proper operation to be safe, too. This means:
- Avoid using a screwdriver as a prying device.
- Use manual screwdrivers when working on electrical components.
- Use two hands when using a screwdriver: one to twist and one to guide.
- Use non-sparking screwdrivers near combustibles.
- Discard screwdrivers that have damaged tips or handles.
- Only use a proper fitting screwdriver.
These basic tips allow a screwdriver to be used properly while minimizing the risk of injury.
7. Hammer Safety 101
Striking tools, such as a hammer, can pose a serious risk of injury, too. These manual or powered tools need to be used properly to avoid risky injuries, especially to the fingers and hands.
The safety tips most recommended are:
- Never strike a surface at an angle.
- Never strike hammer on hammer.
- Use a properly sized hammer for the job, with the face being a minimum of 3/8″ bigger in diameter than the striking surface.
- Always inspect the hammer’s handle for defects and replace if worn or broken.
- Inspect the hammer for cracks and defects prior to usage.
Always work to keep hands away from the striking zone of the hammer. Always make the first strike, when the nail is being held in place, with just enough force to drill the nail into the wood slightly.
8. Plier Safety 101
Pliers may seem like an innocent tool, but they can also cause injury when in the wrong hands. Properly using pliers requires:
- Choosing the appropriate size plier for the job.
- Use pliers at temperatures that do not impact the pliers’ hardness.
- Do not use pliers as a wrench substitute.
- Never use pliers for striking.
- Use only non-sparking pliers when working near combustible material.
Small-tipped pliers need to be used with proper eye safety gear in an effort to reduce the risk eye damage if the tip breaks.
9. Wrench Safety 101
Wrenches come in a lot of varieties, from adjustable to socket wrenches. It’s vital to follow these tips to gain the most leverage when using a wrench while also remaining safe. Tips that can help include:
- Choose the right wrench for the job.
- Use socket wrenches for final tightening or when working on fasteners that are stuck.
- Use insulated or manual wrenches when working near electrical components.
- Inspect all wrenches prior to use for cracks or damage.
- Don’t use the wrench for striking.
Follow the Safety Measures
If the safety measures above are followed, a user will reduce their risk of injury when using hand or power tools.