Power tool users frequently assume that they know everything there is to know about power tool safety. However, power tools can be extremely dangerous if used improperly. The Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a survey in 2003 that blamed workshop and indoor power tools for an average of 400,000 emergency room visits a year. This total does not even include injury from tools such as backhoes, mowers and weed trimmers. Statistics such as these show the grim side of power equipment usage and make the need for power equipment safety even more evident. This article is designed to present consumers with a summary of basic safety procedures and safeguards associated with power equipment usage.
Riverside (and the Inland Empire in general) is populated with many manufacturing facilities that are often prone to power tool accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes the high number of power equipment injuries that occur every year, and have therefore established regulations on power equipment operation and safety. These regulations fall under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act (also known as the General Duty Clause), published in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1926, Subpart I. This clause requires employers to provide a work environment that is free from the recognized hazards that would harm or kill an employee. In order to limit the chance of power tool injuries, these OSHA guidelines should be followed by any individual using power equipment, and not just those in the work place. If you have been injured while using a power tool, it is imperative that you contact an experienced injury lawyer to review your situation. A Riverside personal injury attorney will be able to determine if the power tool used has any design flaws that prevent it from being safe to use. Additionally, if you were injured in the workplace, an attorney would be able to investigate whether all of the OSHA safety guidelines were being followed.
The word “power equipment” usually applies to the types of tools that are powered by one of the following power sources: electric, pneumatic, liquid fuel, hydraulic, and powder-actuated. However, as portable, electric hand tools become more and more powerful and popular, the same precautions should be taken when operating these devices.
After reviewing government injury and death statistics, accident case reports and newspaper accounts, Forbes.com reported that the most dangerous are those that include blades, such as circular saws, table saws, chainsaws, riding lawn mowers, wood chippers. However, tools that drill or puncture were also reported to be extremely dangerous. Individuals using these tools should make sure that the tools are equipped with automatic shutoff features and guards. With all power tools, however, it is important to identify ways to prevent injury through the proper use of tools and the appropriate use of protective equipment.
As instructed in the OSHA regulations mentioned above, the following general precautions should be observed in order to prevent injury from power tool usage:
Power equipment should not be carried by their cord or hose. Do not yank the cord or hose to disconnect it from a receptacle. If the tool has a three-prong plug, it should be plugged into a three-hold electrical receptacle. If an adapter is used to use a two-prong receptacle, the adapter wire must be attached to a known ground. If you are using an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty cord, and do not use indoor rated cords outside. Cords and hoses should be kept away from oil, heat, and sharp edges. When tools are not being used, they should be disconnected, whether they are being stored, being serviced, cleaned, or when accessories are being changed. Individuals not using the power tool should keep a safe distance from the work area to avoid getting hit by flying particles. Use clamps or a vise to secure the project so that both hands are free to operate the tool. Do not hold fingers on the power switch when carrying around a tool. Cutters and blades should be kept sharp, clean, and properly maintained for their best and safest performance.
Never use bent, broken, or warped blades or cutters. In addition, the work area should be well lit and clean. Instruction manuals must be followed when lubricating power tools and changing tool accessories. Strong footing and good balance should be maintained when using power tools, and non-slip footwear is recommended. Avoid loose clothing, ties, jewelry, or anything else that could potentially become caught in a power equipment moving parts. Long hair must be tied back. Individuals who use power tools are exposed to the inherent dangers of falling, flying, abrasive, and splashing objects, or to harmful dusts, fumes, mists, vapors or gases. Therefore, safety glasses or goggles with side shields must be worn to protect the eyes against these flying particles. Use a dust mask for dusty operations and hearing protection if you will be using the tool for an extended period of time. Power equipments should be stored when not in use so as to not cause accidental injury. Be sure to dispose of damaged power tools, or clearly label them as damaged.
One of the most important precautions that should be taken is to make sure that the exposed moving parts of the power tool is covered and safeguarded, including belts, gears, shafts, pulley, sprockets, spindles, drums, flywheels, and chains. The greatest hazard of power tools, however, is electric shock, so make sure the tool is properly grounded before it is powered on. Also, it is dangerous to use power tools in damp or wet locations, as moisture helps electricity flow more easily through the body. This is one of the reasons rubber gloves and footwear are recommended when working outdoors when it is wet or damp.