The most dangerous jobs in the US involve industries that use hand and power tools. Hunters and fisherfolks have the most dangerous jobs, with 132.1 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2020. Loggers follow with 91.7 deaths, then roofers with 47, and helpers and construction traders with 43.3 deaths per 100,000 workers.
This emphasizes the need for a safe work environment, proper use of tools, and implementation of safety precautions.
Safety Tips using Hand & Power Tools
Whether you’re doing home repairs or working a high-risk role, these crucial tips might just save your life:
#1 Be mindful of your surroundings
Your workspace should adhere to safety precautions, first and foremost. Start by keeping your area clean and see that no tools and tangled cords are left lying around to avoid trips and falls. Push unused machines to the side to keep them out of the way.
If you’re working on elevated surfaces, never leave idle objects on scaffolding, ledges, and roofs to avoid falling objects that may injure people passing below.
When handling hand and power tools, keep a safe distance from the people around you, especially if you’re working near or at home. Pets and kids might wander to your work area and get injured. One thing you can do is to create a barrier.
For example, installing a welding curtain keeps nearby workers or bystanders safe from the sting of welding arcs. It also reduces noise irritation. If you have a separate workroom, consider using locks to prevent unauthorized entry.
#2 Equip yourself with protective gear
Working with tools includes potential perils, ranging from a simple scratch to a life-threatening injury.
You’ll be exposed to dangerous tools and risks, such as sharp blades, falling debris, toxic gasses, and malfunctioning equipment.
Your best preventive move is to get yourself personal protective equipment (PPE). Your protective kit should include a pair of sturdy and comfortable safety gloves, goggles, masks, hard hats, and ear plugs (for extra loud power tools) at the very least.
#3 Always inspect tools before using
Wear and tear are very common issues with tools. Years of usage may result in a few loose screws, missing parts, unstable handles, or a few cracks here and there. Even fairly new tools need to be checked thoroughly now and then and before every use.
Do a meticulous inspection of your tools, even if they’re in great condition. Minor damages can be easily fixed, so you can use the tool right after. Others might need extensive repairs, or they might need to be replaced altogether.
#4 Implement proper tool maintenance
It’s bad practice to leave your toolkit unattended when not in use. Infrequent usage can also cause damage to your gears as your tools accumulate dust, dirt, and grease and develop rust. If you leave them unmaintained for a long time, they’ll be harder to clean and use when you need them.
Besides checking your tools before use, schedule routine inspection, especially for those that you rarely take out of the box. Regular maintenance prevents any damage and prolongs their efficiency and lifespan.
You can use gentle cleaning agents or mild soap and water for wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. For drills, jigsaws, and other common household power tools, vacuum accumulated dust and lubricate key parts to improve tool performance and avoid rust. Part of the maintenance is proper storage, so make sure to organize them in quality containers to avoid corrosion.
#5 Use the right tool for the job
It’s easy to grab the tool nearest to you and conclude with, “Yup, this will do.” Admittedly, it’s more convenient to use the tool near you than to reach for one that’s far away. However, it’s worth remembering that all tools have their own uses.
Make sure to assess which specific tool and size are needed to execute a task. As an example, using a pick ax to chop logs into kindling makes the job harder; a felling ax or a splitting maul would make splitting logs much faster and easier. In worst cases, using the wrong tools can lead to serious injuries or even death.
#6 Read the manual
All power tools come with manuals. It’s good practice to read or even skim the manufacturer’s manual even if the tool is familiar to you. Take some time to browse through the guide and review the indicated safety measures. Tool misuse poses risks that can lead to serious injuries.
Manuals also demonstrate how a tool is best used and basic troubleshooting methods. If the tool is completely unknown to you, don’t hesitate to go beyond what the manual provides and do your own research.
#7 One word: UNPLUG
From 2015 to 2019, US fire departments responded to approximately 78,860 home electrical fires, resulting in 820 civilian deaths, 2,400 civilian injuries, and an estimated $2.8 billion in direct property damage.
Leaving your power devices unplugged for a long time is a significant fire risk. You don’t want to lose your property or business just because you forgot to unplug tools and electronics. Make sure each piece of equipment is properly turned off after each use.
Avoid the worst
Remember: No job is worth risking your life. Before you get the task done, make sure you’re doing the necessary safety steps to ensure you’ll finish the work without a scratch. Never compromise your safety.
Keep in mind the tips above to prevent injuries and harm when using hand tools and power equipment.