Power tools, if used correctly, can be incredibly useful for construction work and home DIY. But, if used irresponsibly and without caution, they can be dangerous, causing potentially life altering injuries that can have devastating effects. Power tools need to be respected and they need to be used properly; failure to do so may lead to disastrous consequences. This article will provide advice about how to be safe with power tools while undermining the importance of health and safety and the use of safety equipment to help prevent injury.
Read the Instructions!
Virtually every power tool comes with a detailed instruction manual filled to the brim with information about how to use the tool safely and effectively. Don’t toss it away — read it! Even if you have lots of experience using drills, electric saws, nail guns, or one of the hundreds of other types of power tools available, each one is unique and different with its own set of niggles and features and the best way to learn about them is from the instruction manual. Most power tool manuals also have a best practises ‘health and safety’ section that gives information about how to use the power tool in a safe manner. This is essential reading. Many power tools also have quick shut down mechanisms built-in in case any issues arise: information about how to activate these mechanisms are normally found in the instruction manual.
Use the Right Tool for the Job
Most power tools are specialised to do a single job. Drills are specialised for drilling holes, electric saws are specialised for sawing wood and other materials, nail guns are specialised for shooting nails into materials, and so on. When used incorrectly, these tools can behave in unexpected ways that can cause injury and harm. An electric drill designed for woodwork, for example, may slip when drilling into metal which could cause a dangerous injury. Before starting, think about what work needs to be done and decide on the most appropriate tool to use for the job. Proper planning will ensure that the right tool is always used.
Wear Safety Gear
Safety gear acts as a padding that can help keep you safe in case a power tool behaves in an unexpected manner. If a drill slips, instead of drilling into your hand, it’ll drill into a thick glove instead keeping your hand safe and protected. Safety equipment like goggles, masks, gloves, boots, earmuffs, etc., can all help to reduce injury. Take the time to put on the appropriate gear before starting work: a little health and safety awareness will help keep you safe in case any accidents happen.
Secure any and all Power Cables
Power cables are one of the most common causes of construction and DIY related accidents; even the most eagle eyed amongst us can fail to notice a power cable lying on the floor from time to time. Secure any and all power cables out of the way in an ordered manner. Consider taping them down, too, and marking them with some brightly coloured markings to make them stand out. It’s easy to forget about power cables – simple reminders of their existence will help to remind the brain to be wary of them.
Power tools are powerful pieces of equipment that require full concentration when being used. When using a power tool, focus all your concentration exclusively on the tool itself – try to keep your mind from wandering, if possible. Make sure to schedule regular breaks when working, too. If you start to feel tired or exhausted, take a step back and rest. It only takes a momentary lapse of concentration for a dangerous and potentially life threatening accident to occur.
Power tools can be incredibly useful and versatile pieces of equipment, but only if they are used correctly in a safe manner. Use your common sense when using power tools to minimise the risk of accidents occurring. Make sure to read the instructions carefully, use the right power tool for the job, wear appropriate safety clothing, secure all power cables and focus on your work when using a power tool to help reduce the chance of accidents occuring.
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Ross Davies works with the health and safety training team at Lebreton Recruitment & Training the UK’s leading training providers for the construction induatry in all areas of health & safety training.