Selecting the right tool for the job is as critical to preventing injury as it is to getting the job done right. Educate employees on the proper tool selection and the risks in improvising (i.e. using a screwdriver as a chisel). Stress the importance of operating tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions. Walk employees through the correct use and storage of the device to prevent accidents that could easily be avoided.

Provide workers with the necessary protective gear and appropriate clothing code for operating tools and equipment. Discuss the risks of loose fitting clothing, long hair, jewelry and other hazards that could easily result in injury. Examples of personal protective equipment (PPE) may include:

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Steel toed footwear
  • Hard hats
  • Dust masks

Many tool-related injuries could easily be prevented through regular maintenance and proper use of safety mechanisms. Here are several maintenance tips to help keep dull blades, worn tools and other high-risk maintenance hazards from harming your workforce:

  • Examine each tool for damage before use
  • Don’t use broken, dull, damaged or worn tools
  • Keep blades and bits sharp and clean
  • Clean and lubricate tools frequently and as specified in the manufacturer’s manual
  • Maintain labels and nameplates
  • Make sure safety guards and switches are in place and working properly

Electrical safety is a critical part of any safety education effort and particularly important in environments that involve the use of power tools and equipment. Follow these steps to help protect your employees from the risk of electric shock or fire:

  • Use a ground fault interrupter when using electric tools
  • Electric tools must be grounded or double-insulated
  • Do not use AC only rated tools with a DC power supply
  • Store battery packs a safe distance from other metal objects
  • In damp locations, only plug tools into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
  • Don’t use or leave power tools in the rain or wet areas
  • Always hold tools by the insulated gripping surfaces
  • Don’t carry tools by the cord or use the tools close to heat, oil or other sharp edges that could result in cord damage.
  • Replace tools with damaged cords immediately

Repetitive and awkward motions are an easily overlooked but common source of workplace injuries. Using the same tool in the same manner every day can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues resulting from stress on human muscles, joints and ligaments. Plus, injury from continuous vibration can also cause numbness or poor circulation in hands and arms. To avoid these types of injuries, select ergonomic tools when possible for tasks that require repetitive and forceful motion. It is also important to provide adequate rest time and variation in tasks to help alleviate persistent stress.

Source: Missouri Employers Mutual WorkSAFE Center