Work Safe

Hand and Power Tools

Once you’ve committed to making hand and power tool safety a part of your injury prevention program, there are several best practices you should adopt to help ensure your success. Review these practices with your workforce to help greatly reduce exposure to risks and prevent the devastating impact of injury on your workforce and your business.

Train your employees on proper tool use, handling and storage
Selecting the right tool for the job is as critical to preventing injury as it is to getting the job done right. Educate your employees on the proper tool selection and the risks in improvising (i.e. using a screwdriver as a chisel). Then, stress the importance of operating tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions. Walk them through the correct use and storage of the device to prevent accidents that could easily be avoided.

For more information, download these helpful resources:

OSHA Guidebook: Hand and Power Tools
OSHA QuickCard: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
OSHA QuickCard: Chain Saw Safety
Toolbox Talk: Circular Saw Safety
Toolbox Talk: Cutoff Saw Safety
Toolbox Talk: Hand and Bench Grinders
Toolbox Talk: Machine Guarding Review
Toolbox Talk: Ring Testing Abrasive Wheels

Wear appropriate personal protective equipment
Provide your workforce with the necessary protective gear and appropriate dress code for operating tools and equipment. Discuss the risks of loose fitting clothing, long hair, jewelry and other hazards that could easily result in injury. Examples of personal protective equipment (PPE) may include:

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Steel toed footwear
  • Hard hats
  • Dust masks

Eliminate hazards that could lead to slips, trips and falls
Tools can easily slip out of the hands of the user or fall from heights, resulting in serious or even lethal injury. What’s more, slick work surfaces or carelessly placed cords and tools can also lead to dangerous trips or falls. Here are just a few precautions you can take to eliminate these types of hazards:

  • Keep floors clean and dry
  • Keep cords and tools out of walking paths
  • Make sure your grip and footing are secure when using large tools
  • Carry tools securely in a tool belt or box
  • Use a hoist or rope to carry tools up a ladder
  • Keep close track of tools when working at heights

Ensure that all tools are properly maintained and fitted with safety mechanisms
Many tool-related injuries could easily be prevented through regular maintenance and proper use of safety mechanisms. Here are several maintenance tips to help keep dull blades, worn tools and other high-risk maintenance hazards from harming your workforce.

  • Examine each tool for damage before use
  • Don’t use broken, dull, damaged or worn tools
  • Keep blades and bits sharp and clean
  • Clean and lubricate tools frequently and as specified in the manufacturer’s manual
  • Maintain labels and nameplates
  • Make sure safety guards and switches are in place and working properly

Protect your employees from electric shock
Electrical safety is a critical part of any safety education effort and particularly important in environments that involve the use of power tools and equipment. Follow these steps to help protect your employees from the risk of electric shock or fire:

  • Use a ground fault interrupter when using electric tools
  • Electric tools must be grounded or double-insulated
  • Do not use AC only rated tools with a DC power supply
  • Store battery packs a safe distance from other metal objects
  • In damp locations, only plug tools into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
  • Don’t use or leave power tools in the rain or wet areas
  • Always hold tools by the insulated gripping surfaces
  • Don’t carry tools by the cord or use the tools close to heat, oil or other sharp edges that could result in cord damage.
  • Replace tools with damaged cords immediately

For more information, download these helpful resources:

OSHA QuickCard: Electrical Safety
OSHA QuickCard: Portable Generator Safety
Toolbox Talk: Electric Shock Injuries
Toolbox Talk: Extension Cords, Power Cords and GFCI
Toolbox Talk: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
Toolbox Talk: Ground Fault—Path to Ground
Toolbox Talk: Unsafe Electrical Hazards

Avoid repetitive or awkward motions
Repetitive and awkward motions are an easily overlooked but common source of workplace injuries. Using the same tool in the same manner every day can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues resulting from stress on human muscles, joints and ligaments. In addition, injury from continuous vibration can also cause numbness or poor circulation in hands and arms. To avoid these types of injuries, select ergonomic tools when possible for tasks that require repetitive and forceful motion. It is also important to provide adequate rest time and variation in tasks to help alleviate persistent stress.

Do you have questions about how Missouri Employers Mutual or the WorkSAFE Center can help your workplace? Contact us today to learn more about our resources and custom safety training.

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