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Safe Use of Hand and Power Tools

Humans have been using hand tools since prehistoric times. The evolution from the primitive Stone Age tools to sophisticatedly engineered tools has changed the way we perform work today. Hand and power tools are used daily to help perform tasks that otherwise would be difficult or impossible. However, the advances in tools have also created new challenges for their users. Even simple tools pose great hazards, and can cause severe injuries if not used or maintained properly. In order to reduce or eliminate these hazards, OSHA recommends that special attention should be paid toward hand and power tool safety. In this article, some basic precautions are discussed that can prevent common injuries caused by hand and power tools.

Hand Tool Hazards and Protection

Usually, hand and power tool hazards are caused through misuse and improper maintenance. You should remember the following when handling such tools:

  • Do not use wrenches when their jaws are sprung;

  • Never use impact tools, such as chisels and wedges, when their heads have mushroomed;

  • Tools with loose, cracked or splintered handles should never be used;

  • You must never use a screwdriver as a chisel;

  • Tools with taped handles should be checked first for any hidden cracks;

  • Use Personal Protective Equipment, such as safety goggles and gloves;

  • Keep floor surface where working free from debris and tripping or slipping hazards;

  • Keep cutting tools sharp.

Power Tool Hazards and Precautions

Power tools could be extremely hazardous when used improperly. They must always be fitted with guards and safety switches. Here are some precautions you should take while handling such tools:

  • Remember to disconnect all tools when they are not in use and also when their accessories are changed;

  • Before servicing and cleaning all tools must be disconnected from the power source;

  • People that are not involved with the work must be kept away from the work;

  • Never hold the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool;

  • Before starting to work, make sure both your hands are free to operate the tool. You can do this by securing your work with clamps or a vice;

  • Do not wear loose clothing and jewelry that can get caught in moving parts;

  • Damaged electric tools must be removed and tagged with the words: "Do Not Use";

  • Portable tools should never be carried by their cord;

  • Electric cords must not be used to hoist or lower tools;

  • All cords and hoses must be kept away from oil, heat and sharp edges at all times.

Remember, it can only take one mistake! So be sensible and stay safe.

About the Author: Samreen Soomro in association with OSHA Campus: The premiere portal for online OSHA outreach and safety compliance training!

For more information about Online Safety Training, OSHA Outreach Programs and HAZWOPER Training visit our website at

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