Power tools can be extremely dangerous if they are used improperly. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed by power tool accidents. Common accidents associated with power tools include abrasions, cuts, lacerations, amputations, burns, electrocution, and broken bones. These accidents are often caused by the following:
- Touching the cutting, drilling, or grinding components
- Getting caught in moving parts
- Suffering electrical shock due to improper grounding, equipment defects, or operator misuse
- Being struck by particles that normally eject during operation
- Touching hot tools or work items
- Falling in the work area
- Being struck by falling tools
When working around power tools, you must wear personal protective equipment and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could catch in moving machinery. In additional to general shop guidelines, follow these guidelines for working with power tools:
- Use the correct tool for the job. Do not use a tool or attachment for something it was not designed to do.
- Select the correct bit, blade, cutter, or grinder wheel for the material at hand. This precaution will reduce the chance for an accident and improve the quality of your work.
- Keep all guards in place. Cover exposed belts, pulleys, gears, and shafts that could cause injury.
- Always operate tools at the correct speed for the job at hand. Working too slowly can cause an accident just as easily as working too fast.
- Watch your work when operating power tools. Stop working if something distracts you.
- Do not rely on strength to perform an operation. The correct tool, blade, and method should not require excessive strength. If undue force is necessary, you may be using the wrong tool or have a dull blade.
- Before clearing jams or blockages on power tools, disconnect from power source. Do not use your hand to clear jams or blockages, use an appropriate tool.
- Never reach over equipment while it is running.
- Never disable or tamper with safety releases or other automatic switches
- When the chance for operator injury is great, use a push stick to move material through a machine.
- Disconnect power tools before performing maintenance or changing components.
- Keep a firm grip on portable power tools. These tools tend to "get away" from operators and can be difficult to control.
- Remove chuck keys or adjusting tools prior to operation.
- Keep bystanders away from moving machinery.
- Do not operate power tools when you are sick, fatigued, or taking strong medication.
- When possible, secure work pieces with a clamp or vise to free the hands and minimize the chance of injury. Use a jig for pieces that are unstable or do not lie flat.