OSHA Safety Manuals | Safety Rules for Power Tools
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power tools

Safety Rules for Power Tools

Safety Rules for Power Tools

Portable electric power tools are just what their name implies, power tools. Because they’re powerful workers need to be aware of their limitations and potential hazards.

Use and maintain tools with care. Keep them sharp and clean for their best and safest performance. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for lubricating and changing tool accessories. Use the right tool for the job. Don’t force a small tool or attachment to do the job of a heavy-duty tool. It overstrains the tool and overloads the motor. Keep guards in place and follow lockout/tagout procedures. Unless it’s designed for it, never use a portable electric tool where there are flammable vapors or gases present.

If the tool is equipped with a three-prong plug, it should be plugged into a three-hold electrical receptacle. If an adapter is used to accommodate it to a two-prong receptacle, the adapter wire must be attached to a known ground. Never remove the third prong.

Keep the cord in good condition. Keep it away from heat, oil, and sharp edges. Never carry a tool by its cord, or yank the cord to disconnect it from a receptacle and never carry a plug-in tool with your finger on the switch. Report any defective or broken plugs and insulation on cords. Take the tool out of service to be repaired or replaced.

The greatest hazard of power tools is electric shock, so make sure the tool is properly grounded before it’s turned on. It’s dangerous to use power tools in damp or wet locations or if the worker is perspiring. Moisture helps electricity flows more easily through the body. Rubber gloves and footwear are recommended when working outdoors where it’s damp.

Wear proper clothing and personal protective equipment when working with power tools. Loose clothing or jewelry that can get caught in moving parts. Safety glasses or goggles can protect against flying particles or chips from entering the eye. Keep others out of the plane of rotation so they won’t be hit by flying particles.

Keep your balance and proper footing when working with power tools, being careful not to overreach. When you’ve finished with the tool, put it down or store it so that it can’t cause an injury to another worker. Keep the work area well lit and clean. Cluttered areas and benches invite accidents.

A few safety tips:

  • Never carry a tool by the cord or hose;
  • Never remove prongs from any cords;
  • Never stand in or near water when using tools;
  • Always use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) with electrical tools if working in a wet environment;
  • Never “yank” the cord or the hose to disconnect it from the receptacle;
  • Keep cords and hoses away from heat, oil and sharp edges;
  • Replace all frayed and/or damaged extension cords. Do not try to tape cords;
  • Disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing and when changing accessories such as blades, bits and cutters;
  • All observers shall be kept at a safe distance away from the work area;
  • Secure work with clamps or a vise, freeing both hands to operate the tool;
  • Avoid accidental starting. The worker shall not hold a finger on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool;
  • Tools shall be maintained with care. They shall be kept sharp and clean for the best performance. Follow instructions in the user’s manual for maintenance, lubricating and changing accessories;
  • Maintain good footing and balance;
  • Avoid loose fitting clothes, ties or jewelry such as bracelets, watches or rings, which can become caught in moving parts;
  • Use tools that are either double-insulated or grounded (three-pronged);
  • Keep work area well lit when operating electric tools;
  • Ensure that cords and hoses do not pose as a tripping hazard; and
  • All portable electric tools that are damaged shall be removed from use and tagged “Do Not Use”. This shall be done by supervisors and/or employees.
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