Power tools are incredibly useful but they can also be incredibly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily most tools are fairly straight forward to use and many of the safety rules and tips are simply common sense.
Here are 12 safety tips to help you master your home power tools:
- Make sure you always have the right tool for the job
A massive percentage of accidents with power tools are caused by people trying to save money by using tools for things they aren’t actually built for. It might seem like a good way to save time and money but it’s also a great way to injure yourself. All reputable tool products come with an owner’s manual that should outline all the purposes your tool can be used for. If you need to do something that isn’t on the list figure out what tool you actually need and buy it.
- Read the instructions thoroughly
It can be tempting to skim through the owner’s manual or even skip it altogether if you’ve used similar tools in the past but every tool is different. Safety procedures are generally the same for one specific type of tool but sometimes brands make their tools different enough to require different rules. Read every sentence of the owner’s manual, no matter how tedious it is, before you get started.
- Disconnect power tools when not in use
Even if your power tools have safety features to keep you from accidentally turning them on keeping your tools connected is a bad idea. No safety feature is absolutely foolproof and it’s particularly easy to accidentally turn the machine on when you’re cleaning it or replacing parts. For all these reasons your tools should always be unplugged when not in use.
- Be careful with power cords
It should be obvious that your cord should be lined up so you aren’t likely to trip on it but many people don’t actually think about this when setting their tools up. You also need to be careful when pulling your cord out of the outlet; yanking it roughly may damage the plug. Last but not least, never carry your power tools by their cords. This is incredibly dangerous for both you and your tools.
- Keep work areas neat
Your power cord isn’t the only thing you can trip on. There are dozens of things that can be dangerous in even the smallest workshop. Even sawdust can be dangerous—it can actually ignite under the right circumstances, taking your whole workshop with it. Keeping things neat and organized also makes it easier to find what you need so you can complete your projects more quickly.
- Wear the right clothes
Baggy clothing and dangling jewelry can easily get stuck to power tools, destroying your clothes and potentially causing serious injury. You should also be wearing at least a pair of safety goggles and a dust mask for pretty much any work with power tools.
- Buy high quality ear plugs
Even the simplest power tools make an incredible amount of noise. If you’re going to be using your power tools more than once in a blue moon you need to invest in a good pair of ear plugs to protect your hearing.
- Stay on even footing
Using power tools on uneven footing such as a ladder or another elevated platform is far more dangerous than using the same power tools while standing on your floor. In general, you should hire a professional for any work that requires someone to get onto a ladder or other areas with uneven footing. If you really want to do something on a ladder or elevated platform yourself make sure there is someone on the floor nearby to serve as an anchor for your ladder.
- Secure work pieces with clamps
Any wood or other materials you’re cutting or drilling holes into with a handheld power tool should be clamped securely to a work table before you start working. If a piece is not properly secured it can cause the blade to move in the wrong direction. Unsecured pieces may also fly a significant distance from the work area, causing severe damage to you or your workshop.
- Inspect power tools and cords regularly
Damaged power tools can be extremely dangerous and if you’re not paying close attention small damage will often go unnoticed. Small holes in the power cord can be fixed with duct tape but if there are any large tears the cord should be immediately replaced. Safety guards should also be carefully inspected for cracks and replaced if you notice even a small amount of damage.
- Store power tools out of reach of children
Teaching your kids how to use power tools is great but young children shouldn’t be allowed near power tools when they aren’t under strict supervision. Keep your power tools either in a high cupboard where your kids can’t reach them or in a locked tool box.
- Make sure observers stay at a safe distance
Sometimes people will want to watch you work (or you’ll convince them to because you want to show off something you learned). It’s totally cool to let people watch you while you’re working but they need to stand at a safe distance and even then they should be wearing goggles and a dust mask. How far away they should stay depends on the type of work you’re doing but a bare minimum of 6 feet is ideal for most work. If your observers are kids, they should be a little bit further away.
In the end all of these tips boil down to two simple rules: be clean and be careful. If you can do those two things, you’ll reduce your risk of injury dramatically.
About the author:
Alex is a former Canadian who now lives in Australia and is an owner of Pure Envy Roof Restoration and Renovations, a leading home renovations company from Australia. Alex is passionate about safety and ensuring home renovation projects are done correctly.