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Course 810 - Hand and Power Tool Safety

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Electrical Powered Tools


Should this worker be wearing gloves? See the answer in Section 4.3.

The invention of portable electric power tools benefits industry and workers in almost every field. Greater speed, increased production, reduced effort to perform tasks, and—in most cases—greater accuracy are the advantages these tools provide.

However, portable power tools also have hazards. Serious injuries can occur if you do not take precautions.

What are Electrical Power Tools?

Electric power tools include grinders, drill presses, band saws, jig saws, circular saws, belt sanders, electric drills, table saws, radial arm saws, jointers, and paint spray guns.

Employees using electric tools must be aware of several dangers. Among the most serious hazards are electrical burns, shock, and heart failure.

Double-Insulated Tools

double insulated

Hand-held tools manufactured with non-metallic cases are called double-insulated. If approved, they do not require grounding under the National Electrical Code. Although this design method reduces the risk of grounding deficiencies, a shock hazard can still exist.

Double-insulated tools are often used in areas where there is considerable moisture or wetness. Although the user is insulated from the electrical wiring components, water can still enter the tool's housing. Ordinary water is a conductor of electricity. If water contacts the energized parts inside the housing, it provides a path to the outside, bypassing the double insulation. When a person holding a hand tool under these conditions contacts another conductive surface, an electric shock occurs.

If a power tool, even when double-insulated, is dropped into water, the employee should resist the initial human response to grab for the equipment without first disconnecting the power source.

Best and Worst Practices

using tool

Because power tools are so common in construction, workers are constantly exposed to a variety of hazards. The very tool that makes their job easy and efficient may one day be the cause of a tragic accident. It is good to be reminded of good-sense safety practices.

To prevent hazards associated with the use of power tools, workers should observe these general precautions. Click on the buttons to review best and worst practices.

  • Do keep your mind on your work.
  • Do work only at operating speed.
  • Do use both hands to hold and guide material being sawed.
  • Do stand in a safe location. Position yourself to avoid being hit if the tool kicks back.
  • Do keep cords away from heat, oil, and sharp edges (including the cutting surface of a power saw or drill).
  • Do disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing, and when changing accessories such as blades, bits, etc.
  • Do use appropriate safety gloves when operating power tools with non-rotating parts.
  • Do use appropriate footwear when using electric tools.
  • Do store electric tools in a dry place when not in use.
  • Do keep safety guards in place and proper working order.
  • Do keep work areas well lighted when operating electric tools.
  • Do ensure that cords from electric tools do not present a tripping hazard.
  • Do remove all damaged portable electric tools from use and tag them: "Do Not Use."
  • Do use Double-Insulated Tools.
  • Do keep saw blades sharp and set properly.
  • Do know the switch location so you can turn off the tool quickly.

  • Do not carry a tool by the cord.
  • Do not yank the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle.
  • Do not force a tool by applying too much pressure.
  • Do not hold fingers on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool.
  • Do not use a power tool before it has reached operating speed or while it is coming to a stop.
  • Do not wear gloves when operating grinders and other power tools with rotating parts.
  • Do not allow wires, cords, or other objects that could get caught in equipment.
  • Do not stand directly behind the equipment.
  • Do not use blades that are cracked or kinked.
  • Do not use electric tools in damp or wet locations unless they are approved for that purpose.

Moving Parts

Never wear gloves around moving parts.

In addition to tools with rotating parts, tools with parts that move back and forth (transverse) motion such as sanders and polishers can also cause "caught-in" injuries.

Loose fitting gloves can also increase the probability that they will get caught in rotating parts. Always make sure gloves are properly sized no matter what tools you're using.

Gloves aren't the only worry. Jewelry (rings, necklaces, etc.), loose clothing (long sleeve shirts, unbuttoned shirts, etc.), and long hair can also get caught in moving parts. Take off jewelry, wear short sleeve shirts, and tie up or net long hair to prevent getting caught in moving parts.

Remember a tool that has a rotating component, weighs more than you, or has a gap that gloves, jewelry,loose clothing, or hair could get sucked into, could kill you.

Best Practices


It's important to be familiar with the tool you're going to use by reading the operator's manual and, if needed, get some on-the-job training from a competent person on operating the tool. Make sure you know tool applications and limitations before you begin to use it. Make sure you leave the tool in good working condition when finished. Below are best practices prior and after using power tools.

Before Operation

  • Do not use tools that are or appear to be in disrepair.
  • Keep the work area clean.
  • Keep the floor free of scraps and oil.
  • Remove nails, staples, and loose knots before sawing.
  • Protect the electrical cord. Keep the power cord out of the line of the cut. Serious shock may result if the cord is cut.
  • Make sure there is proper ventilation when using pneumatic tools producing hazardous vapors in confined areas.

After Operation

  • Never force an object into moving parts to stop the machine.
  • Do not abruptly stop moving parts. After power has been turned off, allow it to coast to a full stop before laying it down.
  • Do not leave the machine running unattended.
  • Make sure all moving parts have come to a complete stop before making tool adjustments.
  • Always clean power tools and make sure they are in good repair before putting them away.


This WorkSafeBC video demonstrates the importance of guarding and saw blade depth. It also provides tips on operating a circular saw safely.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. What is the best type of electrical power tool for use in areas where there is considerable moisture or wetness?

2. What should a worker do if a double-insulated tool is dropped into a puddle of water?

3. You notice a worker is wearing gloves while operating a grinder. What should you tell the worker?

4. You notice a worker placing a circular saw on the ground next to his feet immediately after use. What should you tell the worker?

5. What should you do when using pneumatic tools producing hazardous vapors in confined areas?

Have a safe day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.