The right power tools make it faster, easier and more efficient to complete DIY home improvement projects and other tasks. They also allow homeowners to produce more professional results. These days, there are power tools for nearly every type of home improvement task. Power tools cut, drill, sand, grind and perform many other functions. By investing in a selection of power tools, a homeowner will always have what he needs to get the job done quickly. As effective and efficient as they are, power tools are also extremely dangerous. Every year, thousands of people are seriously injured while using power tools, which is why it’s crucial to be aware of the top power tool safety tips.
Types of Power Tools
Power tools fall into two main categories: stationary power tools and portable power tools. The most popular type of stationary power tool is the table saw, which makes it a snap to cut wood and other materials quickly and precisely. As far as portable power tools go, there are dozens of popular options. At the very least, most do-it-yourself types own at least one drill. A few other popular portable power tools include chainsaws, electric sanders, and grinders. Some power tools are electric, and others are powered by gas. Some have cords and some don’t. Regardless of which type of power tool is being used, certain safety precautions should be followed. This guide highlights 15 of the most important power tool safety tips.
Top Safety Tips for Power Tools
1. Always Use the Right Tool for the Job
Misusing a power tool is extremely hazardous. It is important to always use the right tool for the job. If the right tool isn’t available, it should be purchased. The manufacturer will outline the tasks that a tool is designed to accomplish in the owner’s manual. If a person is uncertain about whether a tool is appropriate or not, he should err on the side of caution.
2. Thoroughly Read the Instructions
Many people take their power tools out of the box and start using them immediately. Even if a person has experience with using a particular type of power tool, he should still sit down and read the instructions thoroughly. Some models have different specifications than others. Some are designed to accomplish different things. Furthermore, variations between power tools can result in different risks. For example, different precautions apply when using an electric power tool as opposed to a gas power tool. Similarly, different safety measures need to be taken when using a cordless power tool as opposed to a power tool that has a cord. By reading the instructions, a person will learn everything he needs to know about the power tool and may even pick up a few extra tips.
3. Keep Fingers Away from On/Off Switches
Most power tools are designed so that they don’t turn on accidentally. However, people should still take care not to inadvertently press the on/off switch while handling these tools. For example, when transporting a tool from one place to another, a person should make sure that his fingers aren’t positioned near the power button. If a safety lock is available, it should be engaged when the tool is not in use.
4. Disconnect Power Tools when Not in Use
For the sake of convenience, some people keep their power tools plugged in at all times. When they need to use them, they don’t have to worry about plugging them in again. This may seem logical, but it’s actually a recipe for disaster. When not in use, power tools should be disconnected. Power tools should also be unplugged whenever they are serviced or when parts or accessories are being replaced. When it is unplugged, a power tool can’t accidentally turn on and cause injuries.
5. Be Careful with Power Cords
In addition to keeping a power tool in great shape, being careful with its power cord enhances everyone’s safety. Power tools should never be carried by their cords. People should not swing power tools around by their cords either. Similarly, care should be taken when unplugging a power tool. As tempting as it may be, a power tool’s cord should not be yanked roughly in order to unplug it from the wall. The plug should be grasped firmly and pulled carefully out of the outlet.
6. Inspect Power Tools Regularly
When a power tool is damaged, it can be dangerous. If a power tool isn’t inspected regularly, dangerous damages can go unnoticed. In the case of a damaged cord, small nicks can be covered with electrical tape. If a deep cut or tear occurs on a cord though, the cord should be replaced. Safety guards should not have any cracks, and they should never be removed. If a safety guard becomes damaged, it should be replaced. Power tools should be inspected prior to every use. Power tools that aren’t used regularly should be inspected every few months.
7. Keep Work Areas Neat
Working in a dirty, cluttered environment increases the odds of experiencing a serious injury. For example, sawdust can float in the air and end up in people’s eyes. Sawdust particles are extremely dry, and they can actually ignite under certain conditions. When a work area becomes too cluttered, cords can become tangled, which can lead to serious problems. When a work area is messy, flammable liquids may not be stored properly. Power tools should never be used near flammable liquids for safety reasons. In addition to keeping people safer, a clean work area increases productivity and efficiency.
8. Wear the Right Clothes
When using power tools, people should never wear baggy clothing, which can be snagged or become tangled. Similarly, long hair should be tied back so that it doesn’t make contact with the power tool. The same is true of jewelry, which often dangles loose from the body. To ensure safety, clothes should cover the whole body. When appropriate, hard hats, dust masks and other protective gear should be used. Work boots or steel-toe boots should be worn as appropriate as well. Heavy, durable gloves will minimize the risk of hand injuries too.
9. Avoid Hearing Loss
Many power tools are extremely loud, and excessive noisiness isn’t reserved for cheap power tools either. The potential for hearing loss is very high. It’s even worse when power tools are used in enclosed areas, where sounds reverberate off of walls, floors and ceilings. Even if a power tool doesn’t seem to be too loud, earplugs should be used. Earplugs are cheap, and they are easy to use. By slipping some in before turning on a power tool, a person can dramatically reduce the risk of hearing loss.
10. Avoid Eye Injuries
Regardless of the type of work that’s being performed, the eyes should be protected at all times. Power tools stir up a lot of dust and debris. Tools like drills and chainsaws can cause objects to fly loose. It’s not uncommon at all for objects to fly directly into a person’s eyes when power tools are being used. For optimal safety, a person should use impact-resistant safety glasses. These heavy-duty glasses will eliminate the risk of foreign objects getting into the eyes, where they can cause serious injuries. Extra pairs should be kept on hand as well.
11. Stay on Solid Footing
Working on ladders and elevated platforms is risky in general. When power tools are thrown into the mix, the danger level rises even higher. If at all possible, it is best to remain on solid ground while using power tools. If it is absolutely necessary to climb a ladder or work on an elevated platform, steps should be taken to ensure that the footing is as secure as possible. Wobbly ladders and platforms increase the risk of injury while using a power tool. Another person should remain on the ground while power tools are being used on ladders or elevated platforms.
12. Store Power Tools Where Children Can’t Access Them
Young children are often curious about power tools. Even if young kids are told not to play with power tools, the temptation to do so may be too strong to resist. The best thing to do is to remove temptation altogether by keeping power tools safely locked away when they’re not being used. Power tools should never be left out, even if they are going to be used again the very next day.
13. Maintain a Safe Work Environment
Power tools should only be used in areas that have adequate lighting. In dim conditions, it is all too easy to make a wrong move that can cause a serious injury. If an area is dark or dim, lights should be set up as needed. Power tools should never be used in damp or wet conditions. If a rainstorm rolls in during a project, the tools should be packed up until it is over. One of the biggest risks involved in using a power tool is electrocution, which is why these tools need to be kept away from wet, damp conditions at all times.
14. Secure Work Pieces with Clamps
When cutting or drilling a work piece with a power tool, the piece should be secured with a clamp. For example, a piece of wood should be completely secured before it is worked on with a table saw. Similar precautions should be taken when using power belt sanders, nail guns, and miter saws. If a piece is not secured, it could ricochet and cause serious injuries. A blade might not move in the correct way, or a nail gun could misfire. Securing a piece only takes a few seconds more, and it’s well worth it.
15. Keep Observers at a Safe Distance
In some cases, people may want to watch the work while it’s being performed. For instance, a child may want to watch his parent use a power tool. It’s fine to allow people to observe, but they need to stay at a safe distance. Even if they are far away, they should wear goggles and other protective gear to reduce the risk of injuries. Children should be taught that power tools are extremely dangerous, which is why they need to stand a safe distance away.
Use Power Tools Safely at All Times
While it helps to buy new, undamaged power tools, the safety tips that are outlined above should be kept in mind at all times. Even the most well-designed power tool in the world can cause injuries if it’s not used properly. By taking the appropriate steps, a person can safely use power tools and get work done around the house a lot more quickly and efficiently. Protective gear like safety glasses is also available on Wilson and Miller, and people should stock up on such gear to stay as safe as possible while using power tools.