Tool Safety #2

General Safety Precautions

    Employees who use hand and power tools and who are exposed to the hazards of falling, flying, abrasive and splashing objects, or exposed to harmful dusts, fumes, mists, vapors, or gases will be provided with and must wear the particular personal equipment necessary to protect them from the hazard.

All hazards involved in the use of power tools can be prevented by following five basic safety rules:

  • Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
  • Use the right tool for the job.
  • Examine each tool for damage before use.
  • Operate according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Provide and use the proper protective equipment.

    Employees and employers have a responsibility to work together to establish safe working procedures.  If a hazardous situation is encountered, it should be brought to the attention of the proper individual immediately.


    Hazardous moving parts of a power tool need to be safeguarded.   For example, belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, drums, fly wheels, chains, or other reciprocating, rotating, or moving parts of equipment must be guarded if such parts are exposed to contact by employees.

    Guards, as necessary, should be provided to protect the operator and others from the following:

  • point of operation,
  • in-running nip points,
  • rotating parts, and
  • flying chips and sparks.

    Safety guards must never be removed when a tool is being used.   For example, portable circular saws must be equipped with guards.  An upper guard must cover the entire blade of the saw.  A retractable lower guard must cover the teeth of the saw, except when it makes contact with the work material.  The lower guard must automatically return to the covering position when the tool is withdrawn from the work.

Safety Switches

    The following hand-held powered tools must be equipped with a momentary contact “on-off” control switch: drills, tappers, fastener drivers, horizontal, vertical and angle grinders with wheels larger than 2 inches in diameter, disc and belt sanders, reciprocating saws, saber saws, and other similar tools.  These tools also may be equipped with a lock-on control provided that turnoff can be accomplished by a single motion of the same finger or fingers that turn it on.

    The following hand-held powered tools may be equipped with only a positive “on-off” control switch: platen sanders, disc sanders with discs 2 inches or less in diameter; grinders with wheels 2 inches or less in diameter; routers, planers, laminate trimmers, nibblers, shears, scroll saws and jigsaws with blade shanks ¼-inch wide or less.

    Other hand-held powered tools such as circular saws having a blade diameter greater than 2 inches, chain saws, and percussion tools without positive accessory holding means must be equipped with a constant pressure switch that will shut off the power when the pressure is released.

Electric Tools

    Employees using electric tools must be aware of several dangers; the most serious is the possibility of electrocution.

    Among the chief hazards of electric-powered tools are burns and slight shocks which can lead to injuries or even heart failure.  Under certain conditions, even a small amount of current can result in fibrillation of the heart and eventual death.  A shock also can cause the user to fall off a ladder or other elevated work surface.

    To protect the user from shock, tools must either have a three-wire cord with ground and be grounded, be double insulated, or be powered by a low-voltage isolation transformer.  Three-wire cords contain two current-carrying conductors and a grounding conductor.  One end of the grounding conductor connects to the tool’s metal housing.  The other end is grounded through a prong on the plug.   Anytime an adapter is used to accommodate a two-hole receptacle, the adapter wire must be attached to a known ground.  The third prong should never be removed from the plug.

    Double insulation is more convenient. The user and the tools are protected in two ways: by normal insulation on the wires inside, and by a housing that cannot conduct electricity to the operator in the event of a malfunction.

These general practices should be followed when using electric tools:

  • Electric tools should be operated within their design limitations.
  • Gloves and safety footwear are recommended during use of electric tools.
  • When not in use, tools should be stored in a dry place.
  • Electric tools should not be used in damp or wet locations.
  • Work areas should be well lighted.

* Put Safety In Your Toolbox *