Dont Take Hand Tools for Granted

Too many people do so, both at home and at work. Household jobs usually are light. So you sometimes can get away with using tools improperly or substituting one tool for another. Our work, however, makes rugged demands on tools. If we misuse a tool, or use one that’s wrong for the job or in poor condition, it can result in injury or spoiled work.


Would you use an axe to drive nails? Obviously not. You’d use a claw hammer. It’s the less obvious misuse of tools that gives us the most trouble, like using a screwdriver or a file as pry bar. Trouble also comes from trying to get by with a tool that’s not the right size for the job. A common mistake is using a wrench that’s the wrong size for the nut, or one with a handle that’s too short. This can result in scraped knuckles or a broken wrench. How many times have you seen a person slip a cheater pipe over a wrench handle for more leverage on a tight nut? In many cases, the cheate pipe slips off the handle and the worker loses his balance and falls. And often it’s off a ladder. Don’t take chances. Get the right tool, even if it takes you a few minutes longer. You’ll probably save yourself lost time and pay.



Sometimes the hammer whose head comes off is less dangerous than the one whose head just wiggles a little. In the first case, we know the hammer is dangerous and fix it. In the second case, we never know when the head will twist enough to glance off the work, or just fly off.

Tools in proper condition have handles and heads that are sound and securely fitted; cutting edges that are sharp and true. It’s usually the dull tool that hurts you. Tools should be kept free of dirt and grease. If a tool doesn’t meet these qualifications, don’t use it. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble.



Very few of us are experts when it comes to using every tool made. If you don’t know how to use a tool, don’t be afraid to ask someone who does. Here are a few tips for using tools properly:

1. Pull a wrench. Don’t push.

2. Use the full handle of the hamm If you choke up on it, you’ll lose control.

3. Always cut away from yourself.

4. Be sure to wear eye protection if there’s any chance of chips or flying partic

5. Don’t use a file without a hand

6. Don’t use a chisel or screwdriver as a pry bar.



If you carry tools in your hands, keep sharp or cutting edges covered and hold them away from you. Use a tool box or belt when you carry a lot of tools. Don’t stuff them in your pockets. Keep the tool box orderly so you can easily find the tool you need without getting cut or gouged. If your buddy wants to borrow one of your tools, hand it to him; don’t toss it. Hand tool safety depends on the right tool for the job – in proper condition – used correctly -and carried and stored safely.


Portable Electric Tools

Each year many workers on construction sites suffer electric shock using portable electrical tools and equipment. The nature of the injuries, including those caused by ground faults, ranges from minor injuries to serious secondary injuries. There also is the possibility of electrocution. A secondary injury occurs when a worker recoils from an electric shock and, as a result, sustains an injury. Depending largely on the surrounding physical conditions, such an accident can result in a bruise, a broken bone, or a fatal fall.



Electrocution occurs when the shock current exceeds 70 mill amperes, or there about, causing ventricular fibrillation of the heart and death. Typically, electrocution occurs when employees contact electrically energized parts. It is usually the frame of the tool that becomes accidentally energized due to an electrical fault, providing a conductive path to the tool casing. This conductive path can occur instantaneously or can develop gradually over a relatively long period of time. If a worker contacts an energized tool, an unwanted path or circuit of electricity develops from the tool through the worker to ground. The amount of current that flows through the worker depends, primarily, upon the resistance of the fault within the tool the resistance of the worker, and the resistance of the path from the worker back to the electrical supply. Moisture in the atmosphere may contribute to the electrical fault by intensifying both the conductive path within the tool and the external path back to the electrical supply. Moisture also may increase the severity of the shock by decreasing the worker’s contact resistance. Consequently, the extent of the hazard increases with an increase in the amount of moisture at the job site.



One method of protection against injury caused by an electrical fault is the use of an equipment grounding conductor commonly known as the 3rd, or green, wire. This equipment grounding conductor grounds the exposed, non current carrying metal parts of tools or equipment and carries off the leakage and fault currents, thus limiting the voltage on the tool frame by providing a low resistance path to ground. This provides protection to tool users. Fuses or circuit breakers, on the other hand, will trip; thus shutting off the flow of current at 15 to 20 amperes. These provide protection from a fire safety standpoint but won’t protect you, the tool user.

Another method of protection is the utilization of a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This device continually monitors the current and detects current leaking to ground via a path outside of the circuit conductors. If the leakage current to ground (either through the equipment grounding conductor or through a person) exceeds the trip level, the circuit is interrupted quickly enough to prevent electrocution.

Before you use any portable electrical power tool, inspect the plug, cord, on-off switch and housing. Look for cracked, broken or frayed insulation, exposed wires or connections and for any evidence of damage in general. If you find any of these things, properly tag the tool and turn it in for repairs. Don’t use it! After you’ve checked out the tool, you still have done only half the job. Now check out the extension cord or outlet you plan to plug into! Look for the same things you looked for when inspecting the tool – evidence of damage and exposed conductors.

One last thing before you plug in and start work: Check the outlet, extension cord, tool and work area to determine if they are clean and dry.

Power Tools Safety Tips

Famous last words:

“It’s only 110—it can’t really hurt you.”

“Let me just stretch a little and drill this one hole.” “I emptied this nail gun…”

“Let me pull this saw blade guard back just to finish this one cut.”

Portable power tools are one of the greatest time and energy savers around. Since they’re so readily available and useful, we tend to forget that they’re powered, and have the potential to amputate, break bones, electrocute, and kill. Some of the serious accidents using power tools have involved situations like the following:

“A sheet metal man was installing flashing on a church roof. Using a power drill on the roof edge, he lost his balance when the drill cut through the material. Failing to use a safety belt, he toppled 30 feet to his death.”

“A carpenter amputated three fingers using a portable circular saw incorrectly. He tried to adjust the blade depth with one hand, with the other on the grip handle. He accidentally hit the trigger.”






  • Inadequate instructions


  • Use of improperly grounded, non-double insulated tools


  • Protective guards were defective, or removed


  • Dull, cutting edges of blades and bits


  • Hang-up of power cord twist plugs on ladder rungs


  • Non-secure operator position


  • Proper training in power tool use


  • Preventive maintenance on power tools


  • Inspections and defective tool reports


  • Shorten power cord to prevent hang-ups


  • If you are performing elevated work, use safety belts


Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have you noticed any tools which appear to be defective? Did you report it?
  2. Have you had any close calls recently while using power tools? Can you share it with us?


Table Saw


No single satisfactory guard has been developed for the ordinary table saw. Why? Because so many different kinds of jobs are done on these saws. Each individual kind of sawing job can be well guarded. But no single guard can protect us on all operations. Be sure you know the safe way to perform each operation. And be sure to do it that way. Table saws probably cutoff more fingers than any other kind of machine.



Is the guard the kind that rides on top of the work? It should be for all ordinary sawing, particularly ripping. See that it moves up and down freely without side play. Saws should have anti-kickback dogs and spreaders. See that the anti-kickback dogs move freely and are sharp enough to dig into the stock, if it starts to kick back. See that the spreader is close to the saw teeth, stiff, and well secured. Check the guide (fence) to make sure it lines up parallel with the saw blade. Then set it for the cut you want. All inspections should be performed with the saw un-plugged.



When you have a sawing job, check your footing. Be sure the floor isn’t slippery and there isn’t anything for you to stumble over. Place your feet securely and comfortably. See that there is nothing loose on the saw table to get in the way. Be sure there is enough light so you can see what you are doing.



If you have more than a piece or two to rip, place the stock on a hand truck or where you can easily reach it from the saw table. Avoid standing in line with the saw blade whenever possible. Stand far enough right or left of the line of the saw blade so that a kickback will miss you. But not so far that it’s awkward to feed the wood through. Make sure no one else gets behind the saw while you are ripping. In some shops or on some jobs, an extension is added to the saw table, so that the operator can’t stand directly in line with the saw blade. It also permits long stock to be controlled more easily.



Unless you have seen a kickback, you don’t realize how vicious one can be. Those saw teeth may be moving from 10,000 to nearly 20,000feet per minute. The teeth at the top of the saw blade are running toward you. If they get caught in the wood, they’ll shoot it right back the way it came. Saws don’t kickback if they are treated right. If used correctly, a properly mounted saw blade, in good condition, will cut its way cleanly through the wood. But if you don’t feed the wood in straight, it will get caught against those up-running teeth. The saw may grab it, lift it up, and throw it back.

Some people will tell you that the way to prevent kickback is to keep the saw as low as you can and still have it cut through the wood They are right, if those teeth are sharp so they’ll cut clean. And if the stock is fed straight. The amount of set a saw has will also have a bearing on how it cuts. Slide the material smoothly ahead along the guide and through the saw. Be sure to keep it against the guide all the way through.

A good way to have an accident is to use the saw without a spreader, especially when cutting green or twisted wood. The spreader is located right after the blade to keep the stock from binding. The anti- kickback dog should be used ,too, because the wood might bind against the teeth before it reaches the spreader.



Always keep your hands a safe distance away from the saw blade, at least six inches and preferably twelve inches. You can do this by using a push stick or push block. If the stock or block is made to fit the lumber and has a good handle, you can do a better job with it at the finish of the cut than you can using your hand only., And if something should go wrong, you won’t lose your hand.



Don’t crowd the saw. A blade in good condition will take the wood easily. It will almost feed itself. If it doesn’t, something is wrong.



If table saws are gasoline powered ,there is the possibility of fire. Housekeeping becomes doubly important. Mufflers should be tight and no sparks should be emitted during operations. Engines should be shut off and allowed to cool before refueling. Spilled fuel should be cleaned up before restarting the engine. If a funnel is needed, use one. Belts should be covered with guards at all times.



Whenever using a power saw, don’t forget to protect your eyes by wearing your safety goggles.


Whatever kind of a saw you are using, gasoline powered or otherwise, good house- keeping is important. Continually pick up sawdust and scrap that accumulates near the saw. And also keep a fire extinguisher handy.



Because there is no single satisfactory guard for table saws, the main responsibility for avoiding accidents is up to you.

Portable Abrasive Wheels

Portable abrasive wheels have most of the hazards of the wheels mounted on fixed stands. The fact that they’re portable makes them more hazardous in some ways. They have to take lots of punishment because they get banged around and dropped. Unless the wheel has already stopped before it’s dropped, it’s apt to jump around some and that’s not so good.

If portable wheels are properly mounted and used right, you won’t get hurt, but if you misuse them, you may get hurt. The biggest danger is that the wheel may explode. It’s probably running at 2,000 dr 3,000 rpm’s, and if you bang it into something or give it a good blow it’s apt to let go. Don’t forget that those chunks from an exploding wheel are plenty hard and have sharp corners. They can crack your skull and tear your flesh.

Overspeed can explode a wheel, too, but you can hardly overspeed a motor-driven wheel unless you mount an oversized wheel on the grinder, for instance, put an 8-inch wheel on in place of a 4-inch one. You’d get twice the rim speed that way, and the wheel would probably let go. Of course, you’d have to take the guard off to put the 8-incher on, and that would be a fool thing to do. It’s been done though.

You never should use a portable grinder on any ordinary grinding job without a guard. The guard should cover at least half the wheel. See that it’s secure and set to give you the best possible protection if the wheel should let go. Always handle the grinder and yourself to keep the guard between your face and the wheel. That can mean the difference between getting a chunk of wheel in the face and merely hearing it zip past you. The guard will turn a lot of the dust and sparks away from you, too. Without a guard you’d eat plenty of it.

Suppose we run through the safe way to do a job with a portable grinder. First, check the tool over carefully. Is the cord in good condition? Is the guard on tight? Are the washers full size? Does the trigger work right? Does it cut off the power when you take your finger off? Does the wheel run smoothly and without vibration?

If the answer to each of these is “yes,” you’re ready to get on with the job. Or are you? How about your goggles? Safety shoes, too? You shouldn’t drop that grinder, but you might, and a grinder dropped on your toes would make them plenty sore for a while.

Next, check the area around the job. If there’s anything loose underfoot, pick it up. If there’s anything you can’t pick up that you might trip over — like a pipe — notice where it is and keep clear of it. Then decide where you want to run the extension cord. You don’t want anyone to trip over it or interfere with it, and you don’t want to get your feet tangled in it. The record shows that an extension cord which isn’t safely out of the way is practically a sure-fire device for causing injury. If the cord isn’t long enough to run where it’s safe, get another and hook it up. Don’t take chances with that kind of trouble.