Hand and Power Tool Safety

Hand and Power Tool Safety
Hand and Power Tool Safety
Document Number: 188
Page: 1 of 3
The large variety of hand and portable power tools available on the market today is pretty amazing These tools
allow us to work faster and increase the number of different jobs that we can accomplish. However, if used improperly, hand and power tools can cause injury. By using protective equipment, and following proper work practices,
you can operate hand and power tools safely and with confidence.
Personal Protective Equipment
The type of personal protective equipment (PPE) you
need when using hand tools depends on the tool being
used. At a minimum, eye protection—in the form of safety glasses or goggles—must be worn at all times. The simple act of snipping copper wire with a side-cutting pliers,
striking a nail with a hammer or sawing wood can propel
small pieces of debris into the air.
It is also important to protect your hands from cuts, abrasion and repeated impact. Cut-resistant gloves made of
Kevlar®, Spectra® or stainless steel can help protect against
the effects of a slipped blade. Wearing standard cotton
or leather gloves can help prevent wood splinters or skin
abrasions from handling lumber. On jobs that require long
periods of hammering, impact-resistant gloves with gel or
rubber palms can reduce vibration.
Safety shoes with a reinforced toe can help protect your
feet from injury caused by a dropped tool. Safety footwear
come in a variety of styles and are widely available. Choose
footwear that offers adequate traction for your worksite.
• Avoid using an extension to improve the leverage of
a wrench.
• Do not use open-end or adjustable wrenches for final
tightening or loosening frozen fasteners. These wrenches
do not have the strength of a box-end or socket wrench.
• Apply penetrating oil on frozen fasteners before using a
striking face box, socket or heavy-duty box wrench.
• Do not expose a wrench to temperatures that could
weaken tool hardness.
• Always try to pull on a wrench (instead of pushing) in
case the fastener loosens.
• Adjustable wrenches must be adjusted tightly to the fasteners and then pulled, putting the force on the fixed
• Turn power off and use electrically insulated wrenches
when working on or around electrical components.
• Never alter a wrench.
• Do not over torque a fastener. Use a torque wrench to
tighten the fastener to the exact torque required.
• Inspect wrenches periodically for damage, such as cracking, severe wear or distortion.
• Always use nonsparking wrenches when in the presence
of flammable vapors or dusts.
Wrenches come in an endless variety of styles such as socket, open-end, combination, adjustable and torque, just to
name a few. Wrenches are designed to turn or hold bolts,
nuts or multiple-threaded fasteners. They are sized to keep
the leverage and load in an acceptable balance.
• Choose a wrench that properly fits the fastener you wish
to turn. Use metric wrenches for metric bolts and
American inch wrenches for inch-sized bolts. By using
the correct size, the wrench is less prone to slip or round
off the fastener corners.
Pliers come in all shapes and sizes, such as lineman, diagonal cutting, needle nose, slip joint, locking tongue and
groove. Plier uses include gripping, cutting, turning and
bending. Pliers are a versatile tool, but must be used
according to how they are designed.
•Do not increase a plier’s handle length to gain more
leverage, instead choose larger sized pliers.
•Never subject pliers to temperatures that could decrease
tool hardness.
•Cut hardened wire only with pliers designed for that purpose.
•Do not substitute a pliers for a wrench when turning nuts
and bolts.
•Be sure the plier’s jaws can grasp properly when bending
rigid wire.
•Do not hammer with pair of pliers.
•Cut wire at right angles without bending wire back and
forth against the cutting edge of a pliers.
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Hand and Power Tool Safety
Document Number: 188
Page: 2 of 3
•Always use nonsparking pliers when in the presence of
flammable vapors or dusts.
Hammers and Striking Tools
Hammers are one of the most used tools in our tool boxes.
(Unfortunately, they are also the most abused tool.) Nail,
soft-face, ball-peen, chipping, sledge and setting are just a
few of the hammers we use in the workplace and home.
Many hammer types are specific to a particular industry,
such as bricklayers, machinists and loggers. Each kind of
hammer has a head that is tailored to work best for a particular application. Recently, even hammer handles have
been improved to be stronger, ergonomically shaped and
transmit less shock to the user.
•Always use a hammer of the proper weight and size for
the task.
•Do not strike the surface at an angle. The hammer face
should contact the striking surface squarely, so the two
are parallel.
•Do not use a hammer if the handle is damaged or loose.
•Use a hammer face that is 3⁄8" larger in diameter than the
striking tool.
•Never weld, heat or regrind a hammer head.
•Remove from service any hammer exhibiting signs of
excessive wear, cracks, mushrooming or chips.
•Do not use one hammer to strike another.
•Do not use the wrong hammer for the job; match the
proper type of hammer to the task it is designed to perform.
•Always use nonsparking hammers in the presence of
flammable vapors or dust.
•Never expose screwdrivers to temperatures that could
reduce tip hardness.
•Turn power off and use electrically insulated screwdrivers
when working on or around electrical components.
•Straighten tips or redress rounded edges with a file.
•Never use pliers on a screwdriver for extra leverage. Only
use a wrench on screwdrivers specifically designed to
accept them.
•Use magnetic or screw-holding screwdrivers to start fasteners in tight areas.
•Use both hands when using a screwdriver—one to guide
the tip and the other to turn the handle. Final tightening
requires both hands on the screwdriver handle.
•Always use nonsparking screwdrivers in the presence of
flammable vapors or dusts.
Personal Protective Equipment
Screwdrivers are intended for turning a variety of threaded fasteners, such as machine or wood screws, in or out of
materials. Screwdriver tips come in a variety of different
shapes and sizes. The slotted and Phillips® tips are the most
common, however, torx, hex, square and various others are
also used. As with any tool, it is important to match the
type of screwdriver you use to the type of job you’re doing.
•Never use a screwdriver as a pry bar, chisel, punch, stirrer or scraper.
•Always use a screwdriver tip that properly fits the slot of
the screw.
•Throw away screwdrivers with broken or worn handles.
Power tools present more hazards than hand tools due to
the speed at which they operate. Although similarities
exist, there are distinct differences between the PPE suggested for use with hand tools and the PPE recommended
for safe power tool use.
Eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles, is especially important when using power tools. The speed in
which drills, saws, grinders, sanders and routers operate
can propel small particles much faster and farther than do
hand tools. Others working around the area where power
tools are used should also wear protective eyewear.
Certain power tools may require using a faceshield, in
addition to safety glasses or goggles. For example, a face
shield is recommended while using a grinder, due to the
amount of hot metal particles generated.
Standard cotton or leather work gloves can protect your
hands from minor scrapes and cuts while working with various materials. Unfortunately, cut-resistant gloves are not
designed for, or even capable of, providing protection
against a moving blade or bit. The best way to prevent
injury from moving parts is to keep your hands on the
tool’s handles and keep all guards in place. Anti-vibration
gloves minimize the vibration created by hammerdrills and
rotary hammerdrills.
Safety footwear is recommended when using power tools
because power tools are heavy and they can cut. Safety
shoes with a nonslip, insulated sole and a steel toe protect
against dropped objects and misdirected electricity.
The higher sound levels generated by some power tools,
especially if used over extended periods of time, may
require the use of earplugs or earmuffs. Even the use of a
dust respirator may be necessary in sanding and cutting
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© 2014 Ariens Specialty Brands LLC
Hand and Power Tool Safety
Document Number: 188
Page: 3 of 3
operations. Each situation must be analyzed to determine
the type of PPE that is required for the safe use of each
type of power tool.
Along with PPE, proper attire is also important while using
power tools. Avoid loose clothing to avoid being caught in
moving blades. Long hair should be tied back or covered
for the same reason; remove all jewelry as well.
Proper Work Practices
Portable power tools are designed for a wide variety of
uses. Circular saws, jigsaws, drills, hammerdrills, sanders,
grinders, routers and numerous other power tools save us
time and effort on the job. The growing popularity of cordless battery-operated tools is putting power tools to use in
more places than ever before. The increased use of power
tools heightens the need for awareness of the dangers they
present if not operated properly. The following safety rules
are common to all power tools. In addition, each type of
tool has it’s own unique hazards which must be taken into
•Read the tool’s owner’s manual to understand the tool’s
proper applications, limitations, operation and hazards.
•Do not use electric power tools in the proximity of flammable vapors, dusts or construction materials. Also avoid
using electric power tools in wet environments.
•Protect yourself from electric shock by insuring that your
tools are properly grounded; use a Ground Fault Circuit
Interrupter for corded tools. Always check for hidden
wires that may contact bladed tools.
•Select a tool based on the task it is designed to do. Only
use attachments specifically recommended for your
power tools, and ensure their proper installation.
•Inspect tools for damage including the cord, presence of
guards, correct alignment, binding of components, or any
condition that would effect the operation of the tool. If a
tool is damaged, or a condition develops while a tool is in
use, have the tool fixed before putting it back into service.
•Avoid excessive force to make cutting tools cut faster.
Feed material only as fast as the tool is designed to accept
to prevent excessive wear and decreased control.
•Keep others away from the work area, or provide shields
to stop flying debris and other distractions.
•Always maintain tool control by keeping a tight grip on a
tool. Also maintain your balance and do not overreach.
Do not operate a power tool if you are under the influence of medications or alcohol, or if you are tired or distracted.
•Secure your work in a vise or clamp for increased stability.
Use the tool’s side handle, if available, for better control.
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•Verify that all tools are unplugged or that the power
source is removed when changing blades, performing
maintenance or when tools are not in use. Be sure adjustment knobs are tightened and remove any adjustment
keys before use.
•Keep tools in a secure location when not in use.
•Avoid unintentional tool start up by keeping your finger
off of the power switch.
Common Questions
Q. Does
the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) regulate the use of hand
and/or power tools?
A. Hand and power tools are addressed in 29 CFR 1910,
Subpart P, Hand and Portable Powered Tools and
Other Hand-Held Equipment. Design, guarding and
maintenance requirements are covered.
Q. What size extension cord should I use for my power
A. Proper extension cord size is determined by the length
of cord and the amperage required by the tool. Longer
cords and higher amperage tools require extension
cords with larger wires. Consult your tool’s owner’s
manual for the recommended wire gauge size for your
29 CFR 1910, Subpart P; OSHA General Industry
DeWalt Industrial Tool Co. Product Manuals.
Guide to Hand Tools; The Hand Tool Institute, Tarrytown,
NY, 1985.
Milwaukee Training Manual; Milwaukee Electric Tool
Corp., Brookfield, WI, 1992.
Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. Product Manuals.
Stanley Industrial Tools Catalog.
Please note: The information contained in this publication is intended for
general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for
review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should
not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions
should refer to the cited regulation(s), or consult with an attorney.
© 2014 Ariens Specialty Brands LLC
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