Power tools are handy in accomplishing tasks in our daily livers – it is almost impossible to complete work without them. But we should not forget that the use of power tools does pose great danger.
You should know the associated hazards in using a particular power tool and the measures necessary to mitigate the risk in using the tool, otherwise, you are compromising the safety of yourself and others around you.
We should also be aware that there are many circumstances when you should not use power tools, and here are some of the situations you should not use power tools:
In damp location or in wet workplace condition
Electric power tools should not be used in wet work areas unless of course if they are approved or intended for that particular purpose. There is a high risk of electrocution or electric shock if the electric power tools are used in a wet environment.
In the power tools are to be used in the damp area, it is highly advisable to only plug the tool in the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Proper PPE (appropriate gloves and footwear) must also be worn in doing so.
In poorly lit work areas
Poor lighting is not only uncomfortable for workers who are using power tools, but it is also an unperceived danger in a poorly lit environment that workers tend to ignore. Inability to see in a poorly lit environment entails many inherent risks, especially when using power tools.
Sufficient lighting is needed. A worker can request from his supervisor a portable tower light generator, which he then can coordinate with the site’s safety officer (SO), the SO then ask the equipment department for the provision. This is the equipment request flow we’ve used in our previous employer – and it is effective for immediate provision.
When there is flammable gas or liquid in the work area
Power tool such as a grinder produces sparks when operated in the presence of flammable gas or liquid nearby ignites the fumes, and we all know what will happen.
Work activity using flammable gas should not be done when there is hot work in the same work location. Work must be scheduled in order to separate these two activities. The safety officer is the one in-charge in doing the scheduling. Any work in relation to flammable gas and liquid must be coordinated with the site’s safety officer.
When the work area is littered with easy to ignite materials
Debris such as paper, wood, and insulation is easy to ignite materials and therefore hazards that should be eliminated by doing housekeeping before doing any work with power tools. Activity such as grinding, welding and other hot works should not be done if there is a presence of such hazard in the work location.
If any part of it is damaged, missing or the tool itself is damaged
Weakened power, not starting, burning smell, screeching noise are some of the tell-tale signs that the power tools are either defective or damaged. And there is an inherent danger in using damager tools.
Electric shock from touching the cut exposed electric cord, flying disc of the grinder because the power weakened suddenly in the middle of grinding work are some of the dangers in using damaged power tools. And there is a great risk for the operator to receive a serious injury in this scenario.
If the power tool is found damaged, take it out from service and label it “damaged: for repair”, you do not want other colleagues to use it in their work. And do not do any field repair, the repair must be done by a qualified technician.
If the operator is not wearing proper PPE
Power tools should not be used if the operator is not wearing appropriate PPE. Let’s say for example during a grinding work. The operator must wear a face shield or safety glasses to prevent a foreign body from entering his eyes. The same with gloves – they must be worn during work with a power tool.
PPEs such as earplug or muff, safety glasses, hard hat, gloves, respirator, face shield, whichever is appropriate for the task at hand, must be worn at all times to protect the operator.
Loose clothing should not be worn as this could snare with the moving part of the tool. Jewelry such as rings, bracelets, watches, should also not be worn during the operation of the power tool as this could also entangle with the moving part.
If you are not familiar with the safe use of the power tool
If you’re just new to the power tool, it is recommended not to use it unless someone has shown it to you. Power tool training can be taken by the operator in order to be familiarized with its use.
The training not only gives you the proper use of the tool, but also the safe and efficient way of using it. The training can be taken in just a few hours. There are online training providers you can search on Google. The online method provides a convenient way of taking the training without leaving the comfort of your home.
Watch This Video To Learn About the Basic Safety in Using Power Tools
What Can You Do to Prevent Accident
- Always keep the power tools in tip-top condition. Do routine maintenance and inspection must be done prior to its use. Any defect damage discovered must be reported immediately and never use it until it has been properly repaired.
- Never use the tools for an unintended purpose or design. For example, never use a grinder to cut a 4x4, the disc may stick to the wood and may cause the disc to break into pieces hitting you, the operator.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s guidance. Every power tool has its own nameplate which is attached to the tool itself and comes with an operator manual. Always consult the manual if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
- As mentioned above, use the right personal protective equipment for the tool to be used and in the work area where you will be working. Earplugs, gloves, safety glasses, boots, must be work when working with power tools, whichever are necessary for the task to be done.
- Employer must provide regular training to workers in order to be familiarized with the power tools used on-site and be updated with the present related laws such as OSHA standards. Employers are responsible for the provision of the training at no cost to the workers.
To Make a Conclusion
You can develop unsafe habits in working – and so tend to overlook the danger power tools can pose, and ignore the situations when you should not use power tools. While we know many of the hazards are from its misuse, we should not forget that there are situations that they should not be used.