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.
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.
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 general precautions. Click on the button to review best practices while operating power tools.
- Never carry a tool by the cord.
- Never yank the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle.
- Keep cords away from heat, oil, and sharp edges (including the cutting surface of a power saw or drill).
- Disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing, and when changing accessories such as blades, bits, etc.
- Avoid accidental starting. Do not hold fingers on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool.
- Use appropriate safety gloves when operating power tools with non-rotating parts.
- Never wear gloves when operating grinders and other power tools with rotating parts.
- Use appropriate footwear when using electric tools.
- Store electric tools in a dry place when not in use.
- Do not use electric tools in damp or wet locations unless they are approved for that purpose.
- Keep work areas well lighted when operating electric tools.
- Ensure that cords from electric tools do not present a tripping hazard.
- Remove all damaged portable electric tools from use and tag them: "Do Not Use."
- Use Double-Insulated Tools.
A word about gloves: Do we or do we not wear gloves when operating power tools? As we mentioned in the list of best practices, do not wear gloves when operating grinders because the gloves can get caught in the rotating wheel which can cause serious injury. In addition to grinders, sanders, polishers, and buffers that involve rotating wheels or transversing motion are also included in this precaution.
- Avoid distractions. Keep your mind on your work. Talking, running, pushing, and scuffling can lead to accidents.
- Work only at operating speed. Do not use a power tool before it has reached operating speed or while it is coming to a stop.
- Do not force a tool by applying too much pressure.
- Use both hands. Use both hands to hold and guide material being sawed.
- Stand in a safe location. Position yourself to avoid being hit if the tool kicks back.
- Do not allow wires, cords, or other objects that could get caught in equipment.
- Do not stand directly behind the equipment.
- Keep safety guards in place and proper working order.
- Do not use blades that are cracked or kinked.
- Keep saw blades sharp and set properly.
- Know the switch location so you can turn off the tool quickly.
- Be familiar with the tool by reading the operator's manual. Know tool applications and limitations before you begin to use it.
- 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.
- 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.
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