How do employers reduce risks to employees using power tools?

How do employers reduce risks to employees using power tools?

Your power tools safety checklist

Power tools are used in many working environments, helping construction and maintenance workers to work more efficiently and effectively. However, they are not risk free.

As an employer, you will need to conduct a health and safety risk assessment for applications where power tools are used, and then take action to reduce identified risks. Such action includes providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) and putting in place working processes and procedures that reduce the risks when operating power tools.

In this article, you’ll learn about the type of PPE that you may need to provide to your employees and some working practices that will reduce risks when using power tools, with a simple-to-follow power tools safety checklist.

Why are power tools more hazardous than hand tools?

Generally, power tools are more hazardous than hand tools. They operate at faster speeds and have a power source with which operators can come into contact. There is the added risk of electric shocks, or injury through contact with hydraulic or pneumatic mechanisms, etc. Therefore, the PPE needed is more rigorous than when using hand tools.

What PPE might operators of power tools need in the workplace?

There are several pieces of PPE that may be needed when operating power tools. Here’s a checklist, including why each item of PPE may be needed.

Eye protection (safety goggles of glasses), because operating speeds propel particles faster and further than hand tools. Eyes are especially prone to injury from small shards of wood, metal, plastic or other materials that are dislodged when using drills, sanders, routers, saws, etc. Eye protection should also be worn by those working near the power tool operator. In some circumstances, a face shield may also be required.

Ear defenders will help to protect workers’ hearing when using noisy power tools over an extended period of time.

A mask to protect against inhalation of dangerous materials released into the atmosphere when using power tools. An example is in a wood mill, where the air is polluted by wood dust, with prolonged exposure leading to serious respiratory illnesses.

Gloves, to protect against cuts and scrapes. Cut-resistant gloves are not designed to be used as protection against moving blades. Anti-vibration gloves help to protect workers when using hammer drills.

Safety footwear, with non-slip, electrically insulated soles and protective toe caps provide protection against slips, electric shock, and heavy objects falling.

Clothing or overalls should not be loose or torn, and overalls that are provided should be suitable for the task being undertaken, the power tools being used, and the working environment (for example, extreme temperatures).

Insist on good health and safety practices when working with power tools

Power tools should be kept in a state of good repair, and workers should be trained to check and maintain their tools. If a power tool develops a fault, it should be reported immediately and either repaired or replaced.

When using power tools, workers should:

  • Ensure that long hair is tied back or covered
  • Remove loose jewellery, such as bracelets and necklaces
  • Keep hands on handles at all times
  • Use in line with the safety precautions and operating procedures detailed in the operator’s manual
  • Ensure that guards are in place before and during operation

In addition, the following guidelines provide a safety checklist for safe operation of power tools:

  • Never carry a power tool by its cord
  • Keep cords away from heat, sharp edges and oil
  • Disconnect power tools from the power supply when not in use
  • Never clean or repair a power tool when it is connected to its power supply
  • Ensure other people remain a safe distance away from where the power tool is being used
  • Secure objects being worked on with clamps, and retain both hands on the power tool
  • Check and maintain power tools regularly
  • Operators should ensure that they are in a safe, stable position before working with power tools
  • If a power tool is damaged, mark it clearly as ‘DO NOT USE’ and remove it from the workplace

Ensuring that the correct PPE is used and safety procedures are followed in workplaces where power tools are used will reduce the risks posed and the occurrence of accidents. It will make your workplace safer and more productive. To help you reap the benefits of good health and safety in the workplace, contact Sentry today and discover the online intelligent system that will help your business remain health and safety compliant with minimum effort.

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