How to Work Safely With Power Tools

Electric shock, Power tool

Achieve Better Results by Using Your Power Tools Safely

Portable electric tools and cordless power tools have become a commonplace luxury. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a garage that didn’t house a power tool or two. While power tools may be something we see everyday, not all tool users are familiar with the safety rules and precautions inherent to using power tools properly. So what are they? How do you use a power tool safely? Incorporate the following few rules to ensure you are using your power tools safely and to their fullest potential.

Get Acquainted With Your Power Tools

The first rule of safely operating power tools is understanding what you’re working with. Power tools are, well, powerful and can be incredibly dangerous if not handled carefully. Remember that although you can carry a tool around, it is a forceful machine that uses a strong bit, blade or grinding wheel to manipulate tough materials. With aggressive power, these tools achieve tasks we could never perform by hand. Understanding the force (as well as the limitations) of your power tools will help you exercise them respectfully and cautiously. Read your tool’s manual.

drill and screws
Image courtesy of [Gualberto107] /

Be Self-Aware

The next rule of using power tools safely is knowing your own strength and your own limitations. Don’t take on tasks that are beyond your strength or skill level. As you are cautious of the tool while your work, be cautious of yourself, too. Be aware of your movements and maintain secure footing, proper balance and a stable center of gravity. Don’t over-lift nor overreach and always be cautious of your surroundings. If you’re working with power cords, know where they are and avoid leaving them where they might become a tripping hazard. Be aware of surrounding objects and people to ensure your work is not hazardous to others (and their work is not hazardous to you).

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Wear Proper Clothing and Safety Gear

Similarly, you should always wear proper clothing and safety gear as your operate power tools. Don’t wear loose clothes, aprons or jewelery as they may catch in a tool’s moving parts. Always wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from debris/projectiles and wear hearing protection or respirators as necessary. Just as wood and metal dust can be very harmful to the lungs, noise pollution can cause permanent hearing damage or hearing loss. Protect yourself from long-term injury by wearing the proper safety gear.

Avoid Electric Shock

In additional to high-speeds and sharp edges, while operating power tools you also have to be careful of electric shock. Make sure tools are properly grounded before you engage them and be especially cautious in wet environments. While in some situations wearing gloves can contribute to a dangerous loss of dexterity, when using power tools in wet or moisture-rich environments, tool users should wear rubber gloves and rubber boots to protect against electric shock. If your tool has a three-pronged cord, always plug it in to a three-pronged outlet. Never, never, never remove the third prong on a cord to accommodate a two-pronged outlet.

Protect Your Power Cords

Tool users must always be careful of their power cords. Ensuring the integrity of your cords keeps you safer on the job and delivers better results from your power tools. Keeping cords safe includes avoiding extreme temperatures, keeping them dry and keeping them away from sharp edges. Cords should never be strewn around a work area as this leaves the cord susceptible to damage and creates a tripping and electrical hazard. Never use a power tool with a damaged cord. Never unplug a tool by yanking the cord and never carry a tool by it’s power cord. This protects your from electrical dangers, protects the connection between your power tool and its power source, and ensures neither you nor your tools have to work too hard to accomplish reasonable tasks.

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Use the Right Tools and Accessories For Each Job

Use the proper equipment for each task and allow your tools to do the work for you. Do not force tools too quickly through an application or to perform an application that overloads the tool’s motor. Never force tools through a project – while you must be fully present to operate and guide power tools, allow them to perform at their own pace. Always use power tools with their safety devices (i.e. blade guards) installed. Never use saws or grinders without the proper guards in place.

Keep Your Accessories Clean and Sharp

Tool users must also be conscious of the accessories they use. Bits, blades and etc must be kept clean and sharp and only fully compatible accessories should be used with your tools. Using clean, sharp accessories will yield better performance from your power tools, better end results for your projects and create a safer work environment. Always use your power tools and accessories as they are designed to be used.

Maintain Your Power Tools

The final component of power tool safety is maintenance. Properly maintaining your power tools is a sure-fire way to ensure they remain safe to use and deliver superior performance. Keep your tools clean; free them of dust and debris after each use and, periodically, give them a thoroughly, inside-and-out cleaning. Never use a tool that is damaged or requires repair. Refer to your tools’ manuals to ensure they are properly lubricated and that accessories or spare parts are properly replaced. After using your tools, store them properly in a cool and dry environment and keep your work area clean, organized, well lit and well ventilated.

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Utilizing these simple practices will keep you and your surroundings safer on the job. Though there is a lot involved with using power tools, using them safely is as simple as remaining smart and alert as you work. Be familiar with your tools and what their capable of, be aware of yourself and your surroundings and take care of your power tools. If you can do that, you can be safe on the job. Respect your tools and your projects and you will be a safe, successful, and satisfied power tool user.