Whether you’re a DIYer, or an employer of tradesman, safety should always be at the front of your mind as far as using power tools is concerned. If you’re an employer you should aim to regularly run refresher sessions on the potential hazards and safe working practices associated with power tools. if you’re working alone then you should make sure you arm yourself with all the knowledge you need before starting work, so that you can do so safely.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration “Power tools must be fitted with guards and safety switches; they are extremely hazardous when used improperly.” Therefore, first things first you should ensure that anything you use or issue for use meets this requirement. It’s also worth noting that ‘power tools’ to any tool powered by either electricity.
Other considerations include:
- Never use the power cable/hose to carry the tool
- Do not pull the cord or hose to turn off the tool
- Ensure cords and hoses are kept clear of heat, sharp edges and oils/chemicals
- Always disconnect tools when not in use and when conducting any maintenance on the tool, such as cleaning or blade changing
- Check to ensure other people are well clear of the area you are working in when using the tool
- Keep any work pieces secure with a vice or clamp when using the tool.
- Prevent accidental start up by keeping safety catches on when not in use, and by not depressing the switch while carrying a tool that is plugged in
- Ensure you keep tools properly maintained, referring to the manufacturers instructions and specifications as necessary. Keeping tools sharp and clean is critical to ensuring the safe and smooth operation of power tools
- Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task. Remember also that loose items and hair can get caught in moving parts, so keep these tucked away/tied back as necessary
- Ensure that damaged or faulty tools are taken out of use and labelled accordingly with ‘do not use’
When do power tool users get into trouble?
Even the most experienced tradesman can get caught out when tiredness or the temptation to cut corners sets in.
For the amateur or inexperience user the biggest problem is likely to come from lack of knowledge on the proper use of the tool, or the inability to spot a problem before it turns into a dangerous situation.
Perhaps the biggest lesson to take away is that power tools should be treated with the same respect each and every time you use them. Remember a rotating drill or spinning blade has all the potential to do you harm, and none of the intelligence not to do so, so that responsibility begins and ends with you.