Tool Safety #1

Hazard Recognition

  • Tools are such a common part of our lives that it is difficult to remember that they may pose hazards. All tools are manufactured with safety in mind but, tragically, a serious accident often occurs before steps are taken to search out and avoid or eliminate tool-related hazards.
  • In the process of removing or avoiding the hazards, workers must learn to recognize the hazards associated with the different types of tools and the safety precautions necessary to prevent those hazards.

Hand Tools

    Hand tools are non-powered. They include anything from axes to wrenches. The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance.

Some examples:

  • Using a screwdriver as a chisel may cause the tip of the screwdriver to break and fly, hitting the user or other employees. 
  • If a wooden handle on a tool such as a hammer or an axe is loose, splintered, or cracked, the head of the tool may fly off and strike the user or another worker. 
  • A wrench must not be used if its jaws are sprung, because it might slip. 
  • Impact tools such as chisels, wedges, or drift pins are unsafe if they have mushroomed heads. The heads might shatter on impact, sending sharp fragments flying.

    While the employer is responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment used by employees, employees have the responsibility for properly using and maintaining tools.

    Employees must take care that saw blades, knives, or other tools are directed away from aisle areas and other employees working in close proximity.   Knives and scissors must be sharp.  Dull tools can be more hazardous than sharp ones.

    Appropriate personal protective equipment, e.g., safety goggles, gloves, etc., should be worn due to hazards that may be encountered while using portable power tools and hand tools.

    Safety requires that floors be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent accidental slips with or around dangerous hand tools.

    Around flammable substances, sparks produced by iron and steel hand tools can be a dangerous ignition source.  Where this hazard exists, spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood will provide for safety.

Power Tool Precautions

    Power tools can be hazardous when improperly used.  There are several types of power tools, based on the power source they use: electric, pneumatic, liquid fuel, hydraulic, and powder-actuated.

    Employees should only use tools when they are trained in the use of all tools – not just power tools.  Emloyees should understand the potential hazards as well as the safety precautions to prevent those hazards from occurring.

The following general precautions should be observed by power tool users:

  • Never carry a tool by the cord or hose. 
  • Never yank the cord or the hose to disconnect it from the receptacle. 
  • Keep cords and hoses away from heat, oil, and sharp edges.
  • Disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing, and when changing accessories such as blades, bits and cutters.
  • All observers should be kept at a safe distance away from the work area.
  • Secure work with clamps or a vise, freeing both hands to operate the tool.
  • Avoid accidental starting.  The worker should not hold a finger on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool.
  • Tools should be maintained with care.  They should be kept sharp and clean for the best performance.  Follow instructions in the user’s manual for lubricating and changing accessories.
  • Be sure to keep good footing and maintain good balance.
  • The proper apparel should be worn. Loose clothing, ties, or jewelry can become caught in moving parts.
  • All portable electric tools that are damaged shall be removed from use and tagged “Do Not Use.”

* Put Safety In Your Toolbox *