If like me you love your power tools, then it just makes good old-fashioned common sense to stay as safe as you can. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional contractor, or someone who enjoys doing a few home based projects, you do not want to lose a finger, an eye or cause any damage to yourself or others.
Health & Safety at work is enshrined in legislation and it is there for a reason.
In the USA alone, 4,383 people died in 2012 due to an accident at work and according to government statistics, there were almost 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses. If you add to that accidents in the home as a result of some type of DIY activity, then who know how many there were.
Below I have added the basic tips for staying safe that I use every day in my own work. There is not a day that goes past, except when I am on holidays, that I don’t have some type of power tool in my hand. We all know that they are great time savers and help you do a multiple number of jobs.
Safety Tip Number 1
Trailing Power Leads – Yes this is the single biggest problem that causes accidents in a workshop or a garage. It is a combination of two things which are cutting through a lead, or falling over one. This is one of the main reasons I love cordless tools as there are no leads.
However if you are using a corded power tool, then make sure it is always behind you, and never in front of you. I know at least 5 people who have chopped through a hedge trimmer power lead because they were not aware of where it was. Place it over your shoulder and behind you at all times.
Use an extension lead and never stretch out a power lead, as others can easily trip and fall. Honestly, I have seen this happen a hundred times and there is just no need for it. Ideally if you can use a power tool at a bench, you minimize the stretching of leads.
It is also worth considering that if a lead is going to be dangling for any length of time, that it would be a good idea to tape it down to the floor or another surface.
Safety Tip Number 2
Use The Guards – Guards on certain tools are there for a reason. I can not even begin to tell you the number of workers I have seen who remove the guard from a power tool, to help them see better. This, more than anything else explains why eye loss is one of the leading injuries in the construction industry today.
The same applied to fingers, and I personally witnessed a guy lose two fingers because he took the guard off a jig saw. If a guard is provided then you can be sure it is needed. They are there to keep you safe from moving belts, shafts, gears, chains etc.
You find these guards on most types of saws.
You normally find some type of guard on power tools and it really is there for a reason.
Safety Tip Number 3
Eye Goggles – Yes you will indeed look like a “Geek” or like “Joe 90” but you will also have your sight. If you are drilling, sanding etc then get yourself some safety glasses and make sure that you keep your sight. I could care less what I look like wearing these, but I do care that I can see.
The best safety goggle on the market in my opinion are the Dewalt DPG82-11C Concealer and you can read about those by clicking here. For under $11 you should always keep your eyes protected when doing drilling of any kind.
I use these for a whole variety of tasks such as drilling, sawing and even hammering. Have a think before you do any type of task and just ask yourself is there anything that can fly off or chip off and go into your eye? If there is the slightest risk of that happening, then a set of goggles could quite literally save your eyesight.
Safety Tip Number 4
Loose Clothing – Mainly I am referring to cuffs with this one but it also applies to jewellery, ties or any form of loose clothing. If any of those catch in something that spins, then you will get hurt.
If you are lucky it will just damage your clothes, but more often than not, expect a trip to casualty and a long wait. Drills as you know work by revolving quickly. If something like the sleeve of a shirt gets caught in those high speed revolutions, then it will quite literally rip the sleeve and pull your skin into contact with the spinning drill.
Safety Tip Number 5
Temporary Electrical Connection – Yes we have probably all seen this happen. There is no plug on a power tool, so the person finds a way of shoving the bared ends of the wire into a socket. I have even seen guys boast about this and how clever they are.
If you want to get electrocuted, then this will probably work really well. In any sensible construction company the person would get sacked, and that makes perfect sense to me. Please don’t EVER do this.
Safety Tip Number 6
Storing Tools – Give a little thought to where you store sharp blades etc. All power tools need to be kept in a dry and secure place.
To be fair most people do this, but again, many guys can get a little careless when it comes to storing the accessories.
Most of these should come with covers or sheaths so make sure that they are used. Never keep heavy power tools above head height. If a large drill or saw falls on your head, it is just really painful, and could be even more serious. A good strong cupboard with a lock on it is all that you need.
Safety Tip Number 7
Carrying Power Tools – I have witnessed countless numbers of men carrying power tools by the lead. This usually happens if hey are carrying other things in their hand. Usually they can curl a lead around a finger to save them making a second trip.
This really is a big mistake and if that lead comes loose inside the tool, you will now know until the next you use it. By then it could be too late. Always lift them using the handle, or by fully supporting them. If the tool is really heavy, get someone to help you lift it.
Safety Tip Number 8
Pneumatic Tools – I don’t know if you use pneumatic tools or not. I use quite a few so always check and make sure that the hoses etc are really well connected. If these shoot off someone will get really badly hurt. Safety clips and retainers are provided for a reason so make sure they are used.
It is always worthwhile checking the compressor as well. Check the electric connections and also check the compressed air connections to make sure the compressor is working efficiently and safely.
Safety Tip Number 9
Do some Basic Maintenance – Once a month I just check my power tools for things like a damaged lead, signs of wear, rust spots and if I find any, I just do some very basic maintenance like a clean up, some oil perhaps or replace a lead.
It takes a couple of minutes, keeps you safe and prolongs the life of your tools. I do something similar with all my garden tools in early spring, and it is amazing what you can find and fix really quickly and easily.
Safety Tip Number 10
Lifting Properly – Last but not least, please learn to lift heavy objects including some of the bigger power tools properly. The golden rule is straight back and bent knees and is a wise practise to learn and then do.
Back injuries are cause by poor lifting techniques and over stretching the spinal cord.
Summary of Safety Tips
Two reactions are made by people when you start talking about safety and these are classic male macho behaviours:
- It will never happen to me
- This is boring and I know what I am doing
Almost any evening or weekend ask a Casualty nurse or doctor how many people are treated for accidents caused by the misuse or careless use of power tools, and that is where you will find the “it will never happen to me” men, with their arms in a sling.
Please exercise caution when drilling as there really are so many things that can easily go wrong. When working with a drill it is easy to forget the most important thing which is your safety of course.