The 101 on working safely with tools

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Every year roughly 400,000 people visit emergency rooms around the US due to a tool related accident, and many of the injuries are extremely serious. If you are not careful, and the worksite is not exercising proper health and safety precautions, construction sites – and even at-home workshops – can be extremely hazardous. Spinning blades, electrical wires, loose drills, and potential projectiles are just a few of the many hazards of working with power tools. 

While the injuries and harm caused by power tools can be intimidating, the good news is that by practicing responsible tool use and maintaining a safe working environment, most injuries can be avoided. Keep reading to learn more about proper tool use and how to maintain a safe and healthy working environment.  

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Quality over quantity 

When you are just starting in the trade of construction, it can be tempting to save money and cut costs by opting for cheaper tools and equipment. However, if you invest in high-quality tools early on, they will last longer and are less likely to break or malfunction and cause an injury. Tools like hammers and cutters should ideally be made of hardened steel to provide additional protection while working. 

Once you have invested in quality tools, tool maintenance is also an essential element of workplace safety. Although it is the last thing you want to do after a hard day’s work, it is necessary to properly clean your tools after finishing up and check them for any damage. It is best practice to carry extra tools just in case the tool you needed or planned on using has been damaged. 

Precision over speed

When you are working, it is easy to get caught up in worksite pressures or get lost in your thoughts. However, you need to take a breath and recenter your thoughts before using power tools. You need to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you – it is vital that they know what you are doing and what tools you are using. Although it may seem obvious, it is also essential to quickly check that your feet are firmly planted on an even surface before you start using any power tools. 

Protect yourself with insurance 

Insurance is essential for everyone working in the construction industry, including general and independent contractors. If something goes wrong and you or your employee are injured, having insurance can mean the difference between going bankrupt and maintaining your business. 

Next Insurance offers general contractor insurance, which is simple, affordable, and tailor-made to meet the industry-specific needs of general contractors and independent contractors. Their policies cover general contractors for injuries, property damage, and any libel, slander, or defamation which contractors might face after misunderstandings with clients. 

Protective equipment and gear 

It is essential to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with power tools. Clothes need to be sturdy and appropriate, and you should avoid wearing any loose-fitting clothing or jewelry which could be caught in a machine and cause devastating injuries. Eye and hand protection are also essential. Eye protection visors or goggles and suitable protective gloves must be worn when required. 

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Electric and pneumatic tools 

Extra care should be taken when using electric and pneumatic tools. All workers who use them need to be appropriately trained in their operation and maintenance. Electric devices should not be used in wet conditions, and floors need to be kept dry and clear while using these tools. The power cables should be arranged so that they do not cause a tripping hazard, and tools should never be carried by their cable. 

Pneumatic tools should never be left unattended, and air guns need to be stored unloaded. It is essential to check that all parts of the device are correctly fastened before use and that the pressure is released after use. 

Take care of yourself 

This tip is perhaps less obvious than the others – but it is essential to take care of yourself. If you are overworked and exhausted or not feeling well, it is important to speak with your client or your manager and consider taking the day off, or at least staying away from power tools for the day. It is easy to doze off or lose focus when you are overstressed or not feeling well, and in many jobs dozing off would not cause much of a problem. However, if you fall asleep for a moment while operating power tools, the potential injuries can be life-threatening.