According to safety experts, more than 8 percent of industrial accidents result from the improper usage of power tools. Whether it’s employing the wrong tool for the job, carelessness or failing to wear protective gear, the consequences are often tragic.

 

Virtually all power tool accidents are preventable. McGill, a leading provider of electrical safety equipment, offers the following checklist for safely using power tools.

 

1)       Use tools only for the specific task they’re designed for, and never operate any tool – power or manual – unless you’re trained to do so.

2)       Carefully read the owner's manual before using a tool.

3)       Inspect power tools before each use. If parts are worn or damaged – especially cords that become frayed – replace or repair them. Because vibration can loosen the tool’s parts, its screws, nuts and bolts may need tightening.

4)       Keep workshops and storage spaces clean and dry to prevent accidents. Sparks ignite scraps, sawdust and solvents. Water conducts electricity.

5)       Prior to plugging or unplugging tools, be sure the power switch is turned to "OFF." And never disconnect power by pulling on the cord. Instead, remove the plug from the outlet.

6)       If working on a ladder or scaffolding, carefully set your power tools on a flat surface or in a bin secured to the ladder itself.

7)       Always use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) when working with power tools. Plug-in GFCIs for indoor and outdoor use stop power when loads have a potentially lethal ground current.

8)       Remove rings, jewelry or loose clothing before operating a power tool.

9)       Wear personal protective equipment, such as face shields, safety goggles and disposable masks.

 

Preventing accidental start-ups

Power tools operate at very high speeds, so when things happen, they tend to happen fast. A sudden tool start-up after a voltage drop or power interruption can suddenly fling a work piece at the operator. Fingers may be drawn into a cutting blade, or the tool may move toward other body parts that are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

One way to prevent accidental start-ups is with a motor control, such as the McGill Sensing-Safti-Gard. A built-in sensor blocks the control from resetting until the equipment switch has been turned off.

 

About the author:

McGill Electrical Product Group manufactures a wide range of products, including cord reels, switches, and portable and temporary lighting. For more information, visit www.mcgillelectrical.com, call 888-832-0660 or e-mail literature@egseg.com.