Toolbox Topic: Power Tool Safety
Power tools seem to be an everyday part of life, and that can lead to complacency. Power tools can be dangerous when not used properly. In this episode, we will discuss ways you can stay safe when operating a power tool.
Definitions of Power Tools
A power tool is a tool that is actuated by an additional power source and mechanism other than just manual labor that is used with hand tools. The most common power tools are electric, pneumatic, liquid fuel, hydraulic, and powder-actuated.
A power tool is a powered device that aids in accomplishing a task. These can include tools for cutting, grinding, drilling, sanding, or fastening.
History of Power Tools
The Egyptians created one of the first power tools of sorts. However, primitive by today’s standard, the development of a hand-powered lathe is widely considered the first-ever power tool.
The Greeks developed a drill that was powered using a crank. When the crank was rotated, the drills would spin to put holes in objects.
The Modern Power Tool
In 1895, the first modern power tool was invented, the electric-power drill. A German engineering company, C&E Fein Company, combined a drill with the power of an electric motor. Although cutting edge for its time, this drill weighed over 16 pounds. It was powered by a large but relatively weak DC electric motor. The drill was bulky, and the operator had to hold it by both handles and lean into a chest plate to drill into the work surface. It would take twenty years for someone to improve on this model.
The Origins of Black and Decker
In 1910 Duncan Black, a tool and die worker, scraped together $600 to start a machine shop. His friend Alonzo Decker would become his partner, and together they decided to improve on the C&E drill. In 1916, they started selling a trigger-switch, pistol grip electric drill inspired by the Colt .45. One person could operate it, and it had a small, powerful motor. This humble start was the beginning of Black and Decker, a company that, as of May 2022, has a market value of over 17 billion dollars.
What Time is it? Tool Time!
On Sept 17, 1991, ABC network even launched a show based on man’s obsession with power tools, Home Improvement starring Tim Allen. The show would run for eight seasons with a total of 204 episodes. If you haven’t seen this ’90s classic, you should check it out! You can purchase it and stream it on Amazon, among other platforms. https://www.amazon.com/Home-Improvement-Season-1/dp/B00J1SRI0W
Statistics on Power Tool Safety
Power tools cause over 960,000 injuries every year.
Power tools cause two hundred deaths per year.
Males suffer more power tool injuries than females.
The leading cause of injuries in the construction industry is contact with piercing or cutting tools such as saws, nail guns, and drills.
The most common injuries, according to OSHA, caused by power tools include electric shock, eye injuries, puncture wounds, crushing injuries, and amputations.
More injuries happen at home than at work.
The number of emergency room (ER) visits per year caused by power tools may surprise you. Here is the shortlist:
- Circular Saws: 10,600 ER visits every year
- Power Drills: 5,800 ER visits every year
- Chain Saws: 36,000 ER visits every year
- Nail guns: 37,000 ER visits every year
- Table Saws: 29,000 ER visits every year
Safety Tips on Power Tool Usage
Safety Tip#1 Inspect Before Use
Inspect power tools for damage before use. Inspect power cords. Look for frayed wires and damaged plugs. If it does not pass inspection, take it out of service.
Before starting a new task, take a minute and assess the job. What PPE is required? Be sure to wear all the appropriate personal protective equipment for the job. You should typically wear safety glasses and gloves when operating most power tools. Many power tools produce noise levels that exceed 85db. Don’t forget your hearing protection.
All safety guards must remain in place. Never remove guards. Severe injuries can occur. Many of these injuries result in severe lacerations or amputations.
Tip#4 Electrical Hazards
Power tools should have a 3-prong grounded plug or be double-insulated, and UL listed. Using power tools in wet or damp environments can be potentially dangerous and should be avoided. Always unplug tools BEFORE adjusting, installing, or changing any accessory or attachment.
Tip#5 General Safety
Do not wear loose-fitting clothing or jewelry that dangles. Restrain long hair. Keep fingers and hands away from moving parts. Keep work areas clean. Ensure that cords from electric tools do not create a tripping hazard.