February 28, 2003
Hand and Portable Power Tool
By Sean M. Alvarez, CSP
When we think of workplace
hazards, the first things that often come to mind are
complex machines or chemicals. We often overlook some
of the biggest hazards in general industry - hand and
portable power tools. These simple, everyday tools can
be very helpful in getting a job done faster. At the same
time, hand and portable power tools can one of the biggest
hazards your employees may encounter and can cause serious
injury if not used and maintained properly.
A comprehensive Hand and Portable
Power Tool Safety Program is necessary to reduce or eliminate
many of the hazards associated with hand or power tool
Hand and portable power tools
are frequently used in hard to reach places. If you are
working off of a ladder, a scaffold or similar elevated
location, falling hazards need to be considered.
Securing tools deeply into
a tool belt, ensuring that toe boards are present on scaffolds
and keeping the work are beneath you clear and free of
other workers are just a few of the ways to help minimize
falling hazards. Additionally, wearing a hard hat in areas
where fall hazards are likely may help you to prevent
Flying hazards result from
the motion of hand and power tools. A poorly struck nail,
a worn wire brush or using a circular saw or grinder can
all send particles or fragments into flight. These "flying"
objects travel at high rates of speed and can easily penetrate
skin or eyes.
To help reduce to generation
of hazardous flying objects, ensuring that guards are
present and not modified and utilizing proper shielding.
Keeping the work area clear of other workers may also
help to mitigate flying hazards. Additionally, make sure
that you are wearing proper skin, hand and eye protection.
Cuts and Abrasion Hazards
Knives, chisels, snips, saws
or simply any hand or power tool with a sharp edge can
result in a severe cut or abrasion if handled improperly.
To reduce the chance for cuts,
keep sharp edges pointed and operated away from your body.
Inspecting your tools for undesigned sharp edges or burrs
may also help to reduce cut injuries.
Unintentional contact with
a grinding wheel, electric sander or even a hand file
can cause abrasions to your skin.
Ensuring that guards are present
and not modified may help to mitigate both cut and abrasion
hazards. Wearing cut resistant skin and hand protection
may provide additional protection.
Respiratory hazards can exist
whenever a hand or power tool is used to remove material
that you are working on. Grinding, sawing, sanding and
drilling are examples of hand or power tool activities
that may generate nuisance or hazardous dusts or fumes.
Providing proper ventilation
or partical removal at the source should help to reduce
exposure to breathing hazards. You should become familiar
with the materials being generated as the result of your
hand or power tool activity and wear respiratory protection
appropriate for the hazard.
Electrical Burns and
Since many power tools utilize
a corded power source, the possibility of electrical burns
or shocks exits.
Do not use damaged electrical cords
Always inspect the cord or connection
prior to use.
Use of a ground fault circuit interruptor
(GFCI) will help to reduce the risk of shock
· Do not use electric-powered
tools in damp or wet locations.
Use extreme caution when drilling,
cutting or sawing into "blind" locations. Electrical
sources may be present and, if cut into, may cause electrical
burns and/or shocks.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Good housekeeping in the working
area may also help to prevent slips, trips and falls while
working with hand and power tools. Routing electrical
cords or air hoses out of traffic areas or routing them
overhead may also help to prevent tripping injuries.
Failing to properly use and
maintain hand and power tools causes thousands injuries
each year. Everyone who uses these tools must learn to
recognize the hazards associated with the different types
of tools and the safety precautions necessary to prevent
those hazards. You should identify the hand or power tools
used in your workplace and develop a written plan and
training program to address recognition and control of
At minimum, your Hand and Portable
Power Tool Safety Program should address:
- Non-powered hand tools
- Electric tools
- Portable abrasive wheel tools
- Pneumatic tools
- Liquid fuel tools
- Powder-actuated tools
- Hydraulic power tools
Your plan should include these
fundamental hand and power tool concepts:
- Using the right tool for the job
- Keeping all tools in good working
- Inspecting all tools prior to use
- Using the tools as designed by the
- Never removing guards or modifying
safety features built into switches
- Protecting employees by using appropriate
Here are some helpful links
to assit you in developing a Hand and Portable Power Tool
Power Tool Safety Tips - Memorial Hospital - Towanda,
Tool Institute - Excellent site for power tool specific
guidance. Free streaming power tool safety video &
is Specific" publication (PDF) on power tool
OSHA - Hand and Power Tool
Hand and Power Tools. OSHA
Publication (PDF). Includes information on the dangers
of hand and power tools and safety precautions.
/ Power Tool Safety Links - Comprehensive list of
tool-specific links. Provided by the The National Ag Safety
Database (NASD). Includes some in documents in spanish.
Services Safety. Office of Health and Safety Information
System (OhASIS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), Health and Safety Manuals, Engineering Safety Manual.
entitled "General Shop/Work Area Safety" contains
a section (Section I) on hand and portable power tools
NIOSH Hazard Controls. DHHS
Publications series regarding wood:
OSHA 1910 Subpart P, Hand and
Portable Power Tools and Other Hand-Held Equipment.
- 1910.241, Definitions.
- 1910.242, Hand and portable powered
tools and equipment, general.
- 1910.243, Guarding of portable powered
- 1910.244, Other portable tools and
- 1910.266, Logging operations. Paragraph
(e) contains requirements for hand and portable powered
Letter requesting interpretation
of the OSHA electrical standards as they apply to employees
using insulated hand tools - OSHA Interpretations
The Canadian Standards Association,
a nationally recognized testing laboratory, marking and
double insulated tools - OSHA Interpretations
Certification of manufactured
products intended for use in the workplace - OSHA Interpretations
Use of general protective equipment
and tools by employees when working near exposed energized
conductors or circuit parts in the workplace - OSHA Interpretations
Marking recognition, regulations
and policy of double insulated power tools - OSHA Interpretations
Applicability of 1910.212(a)(3)(ii)
to Portable Pneumatic Powered Fastener Tools - OSHA Interpretations
Interpretation on extension
cords for portable hand tools - OSHA Interpretations
Clarification that a safety
device to automatically cut off the flow of compressed
air applies only to pneumatic power tools - OSHA Interpretations
Pneumatic tools must be designed
and used in accordance with good engineering practices
- OSHA Interpretations
Clarification of 1910.212 and
1910.242 as applying to hand-type office paper cutters
and sharp edged hand tools - OSHA Interpretations
OSHA - Shipbuilding
- 1915 Subpart H, Tools and Related Equipment
- 1915.131, General precautions.
- 1915.132, Portable electric tools.
- 1915.133, Hand tools.
- 1915.134, Abrasive wheels.
- 1915.135, Powder actuated fastening
- 1915.136, Internal combustion engines,
other than ship's equipment.
- 1918.69, Tools (Longshoring)
OSHA - Marine Terminals
· 1917.51, Hand tools.
Hand and Portable Power Tools.
OSHA's Small Business Outreach Training Program Instructional
Hand and Power Tools - OSHA
Construction Safety and Health Outreach Program
Hand and Power Tools for Construction
- Osha Construction Hand and Power Tools page
OSHA Construction Standards
- 1926 Subpart I, Tools - Hand and Power.
- 1926.300, General requirements.
- 1926.301, Hand tools.
- 1926.302, Power-operated hand tools.
- 1926.303, Abrasive wheels and tools.
- 1926.304, Woodworking tools.
- 1926.305, Jacks-lever and ratchet,
screw, and hydraulic.
- 1926.306, Air receivers.
- 1926.307, Mechanical power-transmission
Use of insulated hand tools - OSHA Interpretations
D'AX wheels are to be guarded
as cutting saws - OSHA Interpretations.
All electric tools need to
be tested by a qualified national testing laboratory and
be listed and labeled - OSHA Interpretations
to Shop and Tool Safety" Training Program - National
High Magnetic Field Laboratory - operated by Florida State
Tools Training Guide - UC Berkeley, Labor Occupational
Health Program Factsheets
Tools Safety Walkaround Checklist - UC Berkeley, Labor
Occupational Health Program Factsheets
Power Tools Training Guide - UC Berkeley, Labor Occupational
Health Program Factsheets
Power Tools Safety Walkaround Checklist - UC Berkeley,
Labor Occupational Health Program Factsheets
Power Tools Safety Meeting Presentation - NC State
Tool Safety - University of Maine - Farm Safety Program
Tool Safety Manual - Florida State University
Risk of Hand-Arm Vibration Injury from Hand-Held Power
Tools - UK Health and Safety Executive Information
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