5 Top Workplace Tool Safety Tips

Industrial / Construction, Safety Tips

Power tools and workshop equipment send nearly 400,000 Americans to the emergency room every year, cause nearly 200 deaths and cost $15.4 billion in medical costs annually, according to a Consumer Product Safety Commission survey. Non-powered hand tools cause the most injuries, with knives accounting for 39 percent of injuries and hammers accounting for 30 percent. Saws, grinders, hoists and jacks, welding and soldering tools, drills, and nail guns rank among other leading causes of injury.

A significant percentage of injuries can be prevented by following better safety procedures, claims the CPSC. Here are five top workplace tool safety tips recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that your workplace should follow:

Keep Tools in Good Condition

The biggest risk stems from improper tool maintenance and misuse, according to OSHA. Make sure all your tools are maintained and in good condition. Start by selecting good tools from quality manufacturers, such as Craftsman. Follow manufacturer instructions and best practices for keeping tools in good working condition.

A dull blade runs a higher risk of slipping, so keep tools such as knives and scissors sharp. Keep power tools sharp and clean and equipped with proper guards and safety switches. Get in the habit of cleaning tools before putting them away, oiling adjustable parts, removing rust and smoothing rough wooden handles, recommends True Value. Routinely sharpen bladed tools and periodically deep clean power tools with a damp cloth, using cotton swabs and compressed air to get at hard-to-reach areas. Put your tools back in the correct storage place for protection.

Use the Right Tool for the Job

Using the right tool for the job in the right way is the next key to preventing injury. Many injuries are caused by being too lazy to search for the right tool and grabbing the nearest available tool instead. For instance, don’t use a chisel as a screwdriver because the tip could break, fly off and injure someone. Don’t use a nail hammer to strike a metal tool, which could cause the face to chip. Don’t use a file to pry open a box when you should be using a hammer. Don’t use pliers as a wrench. Basically, don’t risk an accident that could be prevented just by taking a few steps.

Don’t Use Damaged Tools

Always inspect tools before use, and don’t use damaged tools. Dull knives can slip, hammers with deformed heads or cracked handles can fly off and impact tools such as chisels and punches with mushroomed heads can be dangerous. Don’t use files with broken or missing handles or damaged tangs. Don’t use dull drills or bits. Make sure power tools don’t have any worn insulation, loose connections, sparking brushes or defective plugs or switches. Take defective tools out of service and add warning labels.

Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

The best way to ensure safe use is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Exposed moving parts of power tools and moving parts of tools, such as belts, shafts and gears, should always be guarded during operation. Machine guards should be provided as appropriate to prevent injury at the point of contact, at in-running nip points, from rotating parts and from flying chips and sparks. Use clamps or vises to secure objects you’re working on.

Never carry power tools by the cord or hose, and don’t hold your finger on switch buttons when carrying power tools. Keep hoses and cords away from sharp edges, heat and oil. Disconnect tools not in use, and don’t yank cords and hoses from sockets when disconnecting. Don’t use tools that spark around flammable objects.

Use Proper Personal Protective Equipment

Finally, always dress appropriately and use proper personal protective equipment. Depending on which tools you’re using, this may include goggles, safety glasses with side shields, ear plugs, dust masks, helmets, aprons, gloves or boots. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing or dangling hair or jewelry.

Following these five workplace tool safety tips can help prevent accidents in any workshop.

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