Power Tool Safety

The golden rule of power tool safety is always using the right tool for the job. Even if you’ve used the wrong tool in the past and “gotten away with it” or “it worked just fine.” Taking the time to locate the appropriate tool and inspect it to ensure it is safe to use will pay off in the long run.

Using portable power tools is one of the best time savers on the job. Because we use them so often, we tend to forget they have the potential to cause deep wounds with nerve damage, break bones, sever limbs, electrocute, and bring death. Here are some examples of incidents caused by power tools:

  • “A sheet metal man was installing flashing on a church roof. Using a power drill on the roof edge, he lost his balance when the drill cut through the material. Failing to use fall protection, he toppled 30 feet to his death.”
  • “A carpenter amputated three fingers using a portable circular saw incorrectly. He tried to adjust the blade depth with one hand, with the other on the grip handle. He accidentally hit the trigger.”

To avoid incidents keep in mind the following tips when using power tools:

  • Always use the right tool for the right job. No substitutions allowed!
  • Never rush what you are doing. Always pay close attention. Don’t let anything distract you. Think ahead!
  • Always wear safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields. Use a dust mask for dusty operations, and wear hearing protection if you’ll be using the tool for an extended period of time. Be sure all appropriate guards are in place and working.
  • Never overreach when using a power tool. Stay firmly planted on both feet. When using hand-held power tools, always keep a firm grip with both hands. Losing control creates a hazardous situation. Do not use any tool that is too heavy for you to easily control.
  • Before you plug in any power tool, make sure the power switch is off.
  • Make sure cutters or blades are clean, sharp and securely in place. Never use bent, broken, or warped blades or cutters. Never use a tool that is damaged or malfunctioning in any way.
  • Make sure your work area is neat and clean and free of any debris that might get in your way or be ignited by hot tools, chips or sparks.
  • Never use power tools in wet or damp conditions.
  • Need an extension cord? Make sure it’s a heavy duty cord and don’t use indoor rated cords outside. If the tool has a three-pronged plug, make sure you use a three-pronged extension cord plugged into a three-pronged outlet.
  • Always unplug, clean and store the tool in a safe, dry place when you are finished using it.


Don’t let these “famous last words” be YOUR last words:

  • “It’s only 110 —it can’t really hurt you.”
  • “Let me just stretch a little and drill this one hole.”
  • “I emptied this nail gun …”
  • “Let me pull this saw blade guard back just to finish this one cut.”


Let’s Stay Hydrated

The typical signs of dehydration include fatigue, dry mouth, legs heavy or cramping, and often a headache. When our bodies are under physical stress we lose body fluids in the form of sweat. Dehydration and early fatigue result when we do replace fluid lost through sweat. This loss of body fluid can cause impairment of our performance up to negatively impacting cognitive skills. Therefore, it must be a priority to manage fluid intake when working or exercising in hot conditions.

Dehydration can easily be prevented when you we take the following points into consideration.
• Fluid intake frequency: Drink before starting work. Attempting to catch-up on lost fluids while working is very difficult, therefore, drink before getting thirsty. Once you realize you are thirsty dehydration is already setting in. The solution is to drink at regular intervals especially when it is hot and humid.

• The drinks of choice: Water is critical to staying hydrated. Others beverages that contain a mild flavor and small amounts of sodium are encouraged. Sports drink such as Gatorade and Powerade are also great choices for helping stay hydrated. It is recommended that intake of sports drinks be balanced with water to prevent an upset stomach.

• What not to drink: While we are working or exercising it is recommended that we avoid drinks that contain alcohol, caffeine or high levels of sugar such as soft drinks and fruit juices. These type fluids are slow to absorb and can potentially cause an upset stomach.
A very good question to ask at this point is how much should I be drinking? The answer is difficult as it depends on the person and the environment. However, a very rule of thumb is that if you are not urinating – you are not drinking enough to remain hydrated.


Most arc welding and cutting processes, torch welding, cutting and brazing, or soldering, produce quantities of ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation can burn the skin, and damage the lens of the eye. Flash burns to the eyes are extremely painful, and, can cause permanent damage.

Welders, other employees, and visitors near areas where arc welding is being performed, must be protected from the hazards of ultraviolet rays.  This can be done in two ways: by wearing the appropriate PPE, and by placing non-combustible or flameproof screens, curtains, or other effective barriers around the welding operation.

Welding hoods and special welding goggles with UV filters are designed to protect your eyes and face from UV exposure. Appropriate gloves and aprons must be used to protect exposed skin.

Welding screens are used to protect others in the vicinity of the welding operation, when the body of the welder or the shape of the steel cannot shield the arc.

This equipment used faithfully and correctly during every welding job will prevent UV burns.

Many serious eye injuries have taken place because workers or visitors to an area believed, as long as they weren’t looking directly at the welding arc, there was no danger.  But, ultraviolet rays into the side of the eye can cause painful burns as well. Always protect against this hazard.

Welding and cutting are safe operations, if you follow safe work practices.  If you try to take short cuts, or you don’t take the proper precautions, it will become a hazardous job.  Take time for safety and health, because you’re worth it.