Don’t be careless about tool use

Date Posted: 06/10/2024
Power Tool - Grinder

What’s so dangerous about hand and power tools? We use them so often in our daily lives – both at home and at work – that it’s easy to forget how dangerous they can be. They can cause injuries as minor as a pinched finger or as serious as losing one’s eyesight. Any tool can be dangerous if it’s not used or maintained properly. Employees should be trained in the proper use of all hand and portable powered tools.

Safe tools are made from good quality, durable materials that resist bending, cracking, chipping, or excessive wear from normal use. Guards should be used and be both durable and secure. Design is important, too. Electrical parts, pneumatic and hydraulic hoses and fittings, etc. must be rated to meet the requirements of their intended use. Always use the blades, bits, and fasteners that were designed for the tool and task at hand.

All electrical connections for the tools used must be suitable for the type of tool and the working conditions, such as wet or dusty. When a temporary power source is used for construction a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) should be used.

Safe tool use starts with an inspection

Before using hand or power tools, start with an inspection. Some signs of damage and wear to look for include:

  • Cracked or loose handles, casings, or guards;
  • Bent shafts or spindles;
  • Worn, cut, brittle, or frayed cords and hoses;
  • Loose or leaking fittings;
  • Dull, rounded, or chipped cutting surfaces.

Tools should be inspected after use, too. If a tool is damaged, take it out of service immediately. Apply a “Do Not Use” warning tag so others know not to use it. Discard damaged tools as soon as possible if they can’t be properly repaired.

Keep tools organized by returning them to their storage area after use. It’s easier to keep track of them – and avoid damage or accidents – when they’re properly stored.

Don’t forget PPE

Tool design doesn’t eliminate all of the hazards. Employees who use hand and power tools must be provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) if they’re exposed to hazards such as:

  • Falling, flying, abrasive, and splashing objects; or
  • Harmful dusts, fumes, mists, vapors, or gases.

Employees must be trained on when PPE is necessary and what type to use; its limitations, proper use, and maintenance; and how to put it on and remove it.

Keep it simple

These five basic rules can help employees stay safe when using hand or power tools:

  1. Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
  2. Use the right tool for the job.
  3. Examine tools for damage before and after use and do not use damaged tools.
  4. Operate tools according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Use the proper PPE when required.

Related Video

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Training helps ensure employees have the information and skills they need to keep themselves safe on the job. The Training area of the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE provides numerous resources to meet your needs, including quizzes, handouts, five-minute talks, videos, and PowerPoint presentations.

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