This article features the following:
- how to safely use common hand and power tools;
- 5 basic rules of hand and power tool safety;
- 13 safety precautions you can follow when using hand and power tools;
- effective hand and power checklist tool you can use to efficiently perform inspections; and
- free, ready-to-use templates you can customize and use.
From general, multi-purpose tools to more specialized ones with specific uses, there are plenty of hand and power tools to choose from. Below are some of the most widely used hand and power tools for workers in different industries:
A hammer is used in almost all professional and amateur construction work. The most common type is the claw hammer, where the face or the blunt part of the head is used for hammering nails and the back part or the claw is used for extracting nails. Do not use the sides of the hammer for striking nails, and ensure that you have a good, firm group on the handle before using.
- Power Drill
Power drills are used to drill holes through wood, plastic, thin metal, and masonry. The type of drill bit to be used depends on the type of surface you are working with. After using the power drill, ensure that you clean up the dust, shavings, and other material from your work surface by using a vacuum. Do not use your bare hands since you may end up cutting yourself.
- Wire Cutters
These are used to cut wires of varying materials including copper, brass, iron, aluminum, and steel. It is best to use wire cutters that have insulated handles for added protection against electric shocks; though best practice is still not to cut live wires. Wear safety goggles and or a face shield to protect from flying particles.
- Angle Grinder
Also called side grinders and disc grinders, angle grinders are primarily used to polish, cut, sharpen, and sand a variety of materials including wood, metal, tiles, stucco, and pavers. Some angle grinders are wired, while cordless options are battery-powered. Always use both hands when operating angle grinders for maximum control and stability.
A hand tool for turning screws with slotted heads, screwdrivers come in a variety of sizes and tips. This hand tool should never be used for piercing since it is only designed to tighten and loosen screws. Ensure that the tip is clean and free of any material and debris so you can properly grip the screw tips and avoid slipping.
A mechanical saw with a sharp set of cutter teeth run by a length of chain and a motor. While popularly used to cut wood, some types of chainsaw can also cut through brick, concrete, and stone. Do not wear loose-fitting clothing and wear proper PPE that provides protection for your hands, feet, legs, eyes, face, and hearing.
Different types of pliers offer different uses. Some help with gripping smooth, round surfaces such as a rod, and some can be used for twisting and even cutting certain types of wire. Wear safety goggles are a face shield to avoid flying particles that could damage your eyes.
No industry can thrive without the help of hand and power tools. However, due to the inherent hazards involved in their use, workers and safety professionals must ensure that the correct safety measures are consistently implemented. Here are the five basic safety rules to prevent hazards associated with the use of hand and power tools according to OSHA:
- Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance
Regular maintenance is important to keep the equipment reliable and safe to use. Inspection of tools should be done regularly to lower the risk of injuries due to malfunctioning equipment and to prevent unexpected downtimes which negatively impact operational efficiency.
- Use the right tool for the job
Hand and power tools are made differently depending on its function. Choosing the tool appropriate for the job is necessary to avoid incidents and injuries. For example, using a chisel as a replacement screwdriver may cause the tip to break and fly off, possibly inflicting eye injuries.
- Examine each tool for damage before use and do not use damaged tools
Checking and inspecting hand and power tools before commencing work is crucial in detecting defective or damaged equipment. Damaged equipment can cause both minor and major injuries such as cuts, punctures, blindness, electrical shock, or skin infection due to scrapes and abrasions.
One of the employers’ responsibilities is to ensure that employees never use damaged tools. Equipment should help employees easily perform their tasks and not put them in danger. Damaged tools can be hazardous and have the potential to put your business at risk.
- Operate tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions
Equipment manuals help guide employees on how to handle and operate tools as intended. Employees should read and comply with manufacturers’ guides to avoid mishandling of tools that lead to otherwise avoidable accidents.
- Provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
PPE helps in ensuring employee safety by reducing the overall physical hazards caused by power tools. All employees are expected to wear appropriate PPE when working around flammable gases, volatile liquids, or other explosive materials to avoid physical contact with combustible materials which can cause burns, blindness, or respiratory and skin diseases.
A regular inspection ensures that all tools and equipment are in good working condition. Employees must undergo training to gain adequate knowledge on handling these tools so they are used solely for their specific function. Protective equipment can also serve as additional defense against tool hazards. Below are safety precautions to follow when using hand and power tools:
- Do not use power tools unless you have proper training.
- Work in a spacious area and be aware of the people around you.
- When working at heights, use a bucket or bag to hoist tools from the ground.
- Use a toolbox when carrying pointed tools. Do not put them in your pocket.
- Report damaged tools immediately.
- Carry power tools carefully and not by their cables.
- Check weather conditions when working with electric tools outside.
- Do not play with hand and power tools.
- Compressed air guns should not be pointed at yourself or another person.
- Clean your working area and tools before leaving the workplace.
- Do not leave power tools plugged if unattended.
- Electric power tools must be double-insulated or properly grounded.
- Electric tools or equipment should be repaired only by qualified persons.
- Capture photos of identified defects and issues mid-inspection using your mobile device and enrich your safety inspection reports
- Spot and track red flags and assign appropriate corrective measures to the right personnel so issues are fixed sooner rather than later
- Share your audits to your managers or safety officials in real-time with automatic report sharing
- Keep your data safe via unlimited cloud storage. Customize access so only authorized personnel can access your information
- Sign off with digital signatures to validate inspection reports and ensure accountability throughout your entire organization
We have a collection of hand tools checklist sample templates that can be customized to suit your workplace needs. Get started by downloading them for free.
Featured Hand and Power Tool Maintenance Checklists
OSHA Hand and Power Tools Inspection
This hand and tool inspection checklist conforms with OSHA standards on tool safety. The objective is to evaluate if hand and power tools meet safety requirements before use. It also checks if workers have sufficient protection and if the area is secured. Use iAuditor to capture tool defects, generate real time reports on-site and notify your supervisors before problems occur.
Accident Injury Checklist
Accidents indicate that there are uncontrolled hazards in the workplace. Reporting and documenting these incidents help modify the existing safety regulations. Use this template to collect information on the injured person, the injury details and the root cause of the accident. Emergency services and witness statements are also recorded for more detailed reporting.
“Tinnitus” or the constant ringing of the ears and “Vibration White Hand Disease” are two of the most common health problems experienced by workers. These can be attributed to not wearing ear muffs and safety gloves when using tools which produce excessive noise and vibration. Use this template to evaluate if required protective gears pass quality standards.