Portable Power tools are an essential part of many industries, making work faster and more efficient. However, as with any tool, they come with risks, and it is important to be aware of these hazards and take the necessary precautions. In this article, we will discuss the types of portable power tools, their hazards, and the Power Tools Safety precautions that should be taken to prevent accidents.
Table of Contents
Types of Portable Power Tools:
There are primarily four types of portable power tools based on their power source: electrical, pneumatic, gasoline, and hydraulic.
Electric power tools are powered by electricity, which makes them easy to use, but they can also be dangerous if not handled with care. They are usually lighter in weight, easy to control and maintain, and ideal for indoor and outdoor use.
Pneumatic tools are powered by compressed air and are commonly used in construction and manufacturing industries. They are more powerful than electric tools and can handle more substantial workloads.
Gasoline-powered tools are typically used for outdoor work, such as lawn care, landscaping, and construction. These tools tend to be heavy, making them challenging to maneuver, but they are very powerful and can handle large workloads.
Hydraulic tools are powered by hydraulic pressure and are typically used in industrial and manufacturing settings. They are powerful and can handle heavy-duty workloads, making them ideal for construction, mining, and excavation.
Hazards of Portable Power Tools
Portable power tools present hazards similar to stationary machines performing the same tasks. However, the extreme mobility of these tools makes them even more hazardous. Here are some of the most common hazards associated with portable power tools:
Contact with operator’s body: Portable power tools can easily come in contact with the operator’s body, causing serious injuries such as lacerations, amputations, and fractures. The high-speed rotating blades and cutting edges of these tools can cause severe damage to the human body.
Dropping or rough handling: Dropping or rough handling of portable power tools can cause tools to malfunction or break, resulting in hazardous flying debris.
Repetitive strain injury: Prolonged use of portable power tools can cause repetitive strain injury due to exposure to repetitive vibration and motion.
Inherent hazards of the power source: Portable power tools are typically powered by electricity or fuel, both of which present inherent hazards such as electric shock, fire, and explosion.
Electrical Hazards: Portable power tools require a source of electricity to operate, which can create the risk of electric shock if the tools are not properly grounded or if they come into contact with a live electrical wire.
Noise Hazards: Portable power tools can generate high levels of noise, which can cause hearing damage over time. The noise can also be distracting, leading to other safety hazards.
Chemical Hazards: Some portable power tools, such as paint sprayers and sanders, can generate airborne particles that may contain hazardous chemicals, such as lead-based paint or asbestos.
Fire Hazards: Some portable power tools, such as grinders and cutting tools, can generate sparks that can ignite flammable materials in the work area, such as sawdust or chemicals.
Ergonomic Hazards: Using portable power tools for extended periods of time can cause ergonomic hazards, such as awkward postures, repetitive motions, and excessive force, which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
Lack of Machine Guarding: Portable power tools are not always equipped with adequate machine guarding, which can increase the risk of injury from rotating blades, cutting edges, or other moving parts.
Abrasive Wheel Hazards: Portable power tools that use abrasive wheels, such as grinders or sanders, can cause the abrasive wheel to shatter, sending debris flying and posing a risk of injury to the user and others in the work area.
Flying Debris: Portable power tools, such as nail guns or staplers, can cause debris to fly off at high speeds, causing injury to the user or others in the work area.
Struck-by Hazards: Portable power tools, such as hammer drills or impact wrenches, can cause objects to be propelled, leading to a risk of being struck by objects in the work area.
Overheating: Portable power tools can overheat due to prolonged use, causing the motor or other components to malfunction and potentially leading to a fire or other safety hazard.
Battery Explosions: Some portable power tools, such as cordless drills or saws, use rechargeable batteries that can explode or catch fire if they are not properly maintained or charged.
Improper Use: Portable power tools can pose a hazard if they are used improperly or for a task they were not designed for, such as using a drill to mix chemicals or using a saw to cut metal.
Lack of Maintenance: Portable power tools that are not properly maintained, such as failing to replace worn blades or sharpen bits, can pose a risk of injury due to reduced performance or increased hazards.
Inadequate Lighting: Portable power tools may be used in areas with inadequate lighting, which can increase the risk of injury from lack of visibility or misjudging distances.
Unstable Work Surface: Portable power tools can be unstable on a work surface, particularly if the surface is not level or secure, increasing the risk of injury from falls or the tool tipping over.
Improper Storage: Portable power tools that are not stored properly, such as leaving them plugged in or exposed to moisture or extreme temperatures, can lead to malfunction or hazards.
Lack of Proper Training: Using portable power tools without proper training can be extremely hazardous. Operators who are not properly trained on how to use and maintain the equipment are more likely to make mistakes and put themselves and others at risk.
Improper Handling of Blades: Blades used with portable power tools such as saws, cutters, and knives can be extremely sharp and dangerous. Improper handling of these blades can lead to serious injuries such as cuts, punctures, and lacerations.
Lack of Personal Protective Equipment: Operators who do not wear the proper personal protective equipment while using portable power tools are at an increased risk of injury. Items such as safety glasses, gloves, and hearing protection can help protect against potential hazards.
Collisions with Other Workers: In busy work environments, operators using portable power tools may accidentally collide with other workers or equipment. This can cause serious injuries to both the operator and those nearby.
Use in Confined Spaces: Using portable power tools in confined spaces such as crawl spaces, attics, or basements can be extremely dangerous. Lack of proper ventilation and visibility can cause safety hazards such as suffocation, fire, or explosions.
Safety Precautions for Portable Power Tools:
The following safety precautions apply for all portable power tools- electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic etc which are covered :
- Always use portable power tools equipped with a spring-loaded switch (dead man switch) that will actuate only when pressed. The switch shall be free from any locking.
- Disconnect the tool from power source before maintenance and attaching accessories. Put guard back in place before reuse. Isolate power when not in use.
- Secure the tool in elevated places, so that it will not fall if the cord or hose is pulled.
- Avoid excessive force to make cutting tools cut faster. Feed material only as fast as the tool is designed to accept to prevent excessive wear and decreased control.
- Do not wear loose clothing while operating power tools.
- Suspend tools to avoid falling on the operator when working in an overhead position with heavy tools.
- Lay cords and hoses safely to avoid damage and tripping hazards. Avoid laying cords or hoses over sharp edges.
- Use braided extension cables for all power tools to reduce the possibility of damage due to site conditions, which could lead to electrocution.
- Ensure the tool is turned off before it is plugged in to avoid accidental starting. Also, do not walk around with a plugged-in tool with the finger touching the switch. Whenever a power tool is to be kept unattended, even for a short period, its power supply shall be isolated.
- Use clamps, a vice, or other devices to hold and support the piece being worked on, when practical to do so. This will allow the user to use both hands for better control of the tool and will help prevent injuries if a tool jams or binds in a work piece.
- Follow good housekeeping practices – keep the work area free of clutter and debris that could be tripping or slipping hazards.
- Never use a power tool with a malfunctioning switch or part. Remove it from service and repair or discard it if not repairable.
- Do not walk on or allow vehicles or other moving equipment to pass over unprotected power cords. Cords should be put in conduits or protected by placing planks on each side of them.
- Connections shall not be taken over water-logged areas.
- Do not surprise or touch anyone who is operating a tool. Startling a tool operator could end up causing an accident or injury.
- Only use accessories recommended by the manufacturer. Read the tool manufacturer’s manual to understand the tool’s proper applications, limitations, operation, and maintenance.
- Use the right tool for the job. Ensure it is the right size and has sufficient power to do the job safely. When there is a choice, select a tool of a low weight and low vibration.
- Select low-vibrating tools as far as possible. Choose tools with vibration-absorbing handles, like those covered with cork, rubber, plastic or plastic bonded to steel, to reduce hand-arm vibration.
- Choose hand tools that have the center of gravity within or close to the handle.
- Select tools with rounded and smooth handles that can be gripped easily.
- If available, choose hand tools with double handles to permit easier holding and better manipulation of the tool.
- Hold the tool close to the body. Do not stretch out the arms when using power tools.
- Keep good balance and proper footing at all times. This will help operators to control the tool better, especially in response to unexpected incidents.
- Rest the hands by putting the tool down when not using it.
- Reduce power to the lowest setting that can complete the job safely. This action reduces tool vibration at the operator’s end.
Use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, earplugs or earmuffs, gloves, and safety shoes to protect yourself from potential hazards associated with the tool you are using.
Never use a tool for a purpose other than what it was designed for. Using a tool improperly can cause the tool to fail and result in injury.
Use caution when working with sharp tools, and make sure to keep your hands and fingers clear of the cutting area.
Avoid using power tools in wet or damp environments, or when standing on a wet surface.
Always use tools with sharp blades, and replace blades as soon as they become dull.
Ensure that all tools are properly grounded, and never use tools that have frayed or damaged cords.
Keep all cords and hoses away from heat sources, such as welding equipment or hot surfaces.
Always use a properly rated extension cord when using a power tool.
Avoid using power tools in confined spaces, or in areas where there is not enough ventilation.
Store tools in a safe and secure place when not in use, and make sure they are properly maintained and inspected on a regular basis.
Never use a tool that is damaged or defective, and report any issues to your supervisor or maintenance personnel immediately.
Take breaks when using power tools for extended periods of time to reduce the risk of fatigue or repetitive strain injuries.
Always use a workbench or other stable surface to support your workpiece when using power tools.
Keep all bystanders at a safe distance when using power tools, and never allow anyone to stand in the line of fire of a tool.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using power tools, and never modify or alter a tool without proper authorization.
Important Note: We will now include additional precautions specific to certain types of portable power tools, as well as specific precautions for individual tools.
Safety Precautions for Portable Electrical Tools
- The use of ground wire is mandatory for all electrical tools except the double insulated electrical tools. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) or Earth leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB) with earth leakage operating current ≤= 30 mA shall be used. Functionality of ELCB shall be ensured before taking into
- Safe Work Practices on Electrical Safety shall be referred for further details on electrical hazards and
- In wet locations such as in tanks and boiler or on wet floors, low voltage hand tools up to 24 volts are recommended. Additional precautions such as rubber mat and rubber gloves shall be
- Double rubber insulated tools shall be marked with Double Insulated or symbol of two squares as shown. Such tools shall be stamped by reputed certifying agency such as
- User shall check insulation of tools and cord before and after each use.
- Heavy-duty shock resistant type plugs ( twist lock type)shall be used. Proper extension cord shall be used where
- Eliminate octopus connections: if more than one receptacle plug is needed, use a power bar or power distribution strip that has an integral power cord and a built-in overcurrent
- Manufacturer’s original fittings shall not be altered and improper joints (tape connection) are not
- Power cord of tool should not be used for raising, lowering or carrying the tool.
- Plugging or unplugging of electrical hand tools shall be carried out only after switching off the power socket switches. Power cord shall not be pulled to unplug the tools from the power
- Use of electrical tools such as electrical drill, grinder etc in hazardous classified areas shall be permitted only under Hot Work Permit conditions.
- Keep work areas well lighted when using electric
- Store electric tools in a dry place when not in use.
Safety Precautions for Portable Electric Drill
- Selection of drill bit shall be in accordance with the work piece such as steel, concrete etc.
- If bit is long enough to pass through material, protection against damage to property and injury to personnel must be provided at the far end.
- Telescopic or similar guard must be used, when operating a bench
- Use of electric portable drill shall be allowed only under hot work
Safety Precautions for Portable Electrical Grinder
- Grinding wheel should have the same maximum permissible working speed as the grinder or a higher safe
- Wheel guard must be provided at all times
- Tool rest should be used and adjusted correctly. The rest should not be adjusted when grinder is in
- User should never operate grinders without protecting eyes with safety glasses, goggles and a face shield over it. If the material being worked on will produce a lot of dust or other particles, he shall wear a dust mask or filter
- User shall use visors/face shield which can be fixed to their helmets. Use of independent visor which can be worn by removing hard hats shall not be allowed where there is a possibility of objects falling form heights.
- User shall make sure the grinder has guard housing.
- Before starting a portable grinder, user shall look to see where the sparks might fall. Work area shall be cleaned if
- Allow the wheel to reach full speed before stepping into the grinding position.
- Grind on the face of the wheel unless otherwise designed. Use a vise grip plier or clamp to hold small pieces. Move the work piece slowly across the wheel face.
- Do not apply excessive pressure on tool during sharpening/ grinding tool on the
- Power supply to Portable electric grinding machine shall be turned off when not in
- Allow the wheel to stop naturally when turning it off. Do not attempt to stop by applying external
- Periodically check for soundness of grinding wheels. Replace badly worn, cracked or out-of-round wheels.
- Monitor the shelf life of consumables such as cutting disc & grinding wheels, never use expired
- Debris of grinding wheel shall be segregated as hazardous
Safety Precautions for Pneumatic Tools
- Pneumatic tools are powered by compressed air and include chippers, drills, hammers, and sanders. There are several dangers associated with the use of pneumatic tools. First and foremost is the danger of getting hit by one of the tool’s attachments or by some kind of fastener the user is using with the
- Pneumatic tools must be checked to see that the tools are fastened securely to the air hose to prevent them from becoming disconnected. A short wire or positive locking device attaching the air hose to the tool must also be used and will serve as an added
- If an air hose is more than 1/2-inch (12.7 millimeters) in diameter, a safety excess flow valve must be installed at the source of the air supply to reduce pressure in case of hose
- Pneumatic tools that shoot nails, rivets, staples, or similar fasteners and operate at pressures more than 100 pounds per square inch(689 kPa), must be equipped with a special device to keep fasteners from being ejected, unless the muzzle is pressed against the work surface.
- Airless spray guns that atomize paints and fluids at pressures of1,000 pounds or more per square inch (6,890 kPa) must be equipped with automatic or visible manual safety devices that will prevent pulling the trigger until the safety device is manually
- In general, the same precautions should be taken with an air hose that are recommended for electric cords, because the hose is subject to the same kind of damage or accidental striking, and because it also presents tripping
- Air hoses shall be coupled, locked and secured from undesired movement before opening air supply valve. A safety clip or retainer must be installed to prevent attachments such as chisels on a chipping hammer from being ejected during tool
- Eye protection is required, and head and face protection shall be worn by employees working with pneumatic tools. A face shield also shall be used in addition to safety
- Screens must also be set up to protect nearby workers from being struck by flying fragments around chippers, riveting guns, staplers, or air
- Noise is another hazard associated with pneumatic tools. Working with noisy tools such as jackhammers requires proper, effective use of appropriate hearing protection. Refer HSE Document “PPE Program” for selection of appropriate
- Good quality air hoses with proper pressure rating and standard coupling with locking arrangement shall be used. Supply air pressure shall not exceed the design pressure of the tool and accessories. Follow procedure on utility station hose care and
- Air hoses shall be inspected for soundness before use. It shall be periodically tested as per manufacturer’s
- Air hose should not be used for cleaning dust on machines or
- Before disconnecting air hose, supply valve shall be
- Make sure that hose connections fit properly and are equipped with a mechanical means of securing the connection (e.g., chain, wire, or positive locking device).
- While working in inert atmosphere nitrogen driven pneumatic tools shall be used.
Safety Precautions for Jack Hammer
- Always wear proper protective equipment. Safety glasses or shield, hearing protection(shall wear double ear protection – both ear plug and ear muff), and breathing protection shall be
- Check all bits to see that they are sharp. If not, sharpen according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Always disconnect the air supply before inserting or removing
- Be sure all tools are properly locked into the unit before
- Allow the tool to do the work by using a grip light enough to maintain control.
- Maintain a firm grip at all times, but do not squeeze the handles with constant, excessive pressures, take frequent
- If stopping work for a short period of time or for the day, stop the compressor.
- Use of heavy jackhammers can cause fatigue and strains. Heavy rubber grips reduce these effects by providing a secure
- Proper hose NPT fittings to be used for pneumatic jack
Safety Precations for Hydraulic Tools
- Use only suitable fluid that will retain its characteristics at the highest temperatures to which it will be
- Do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended operating pressure for any
- Hose assemblies must be inspected prior to each use. Worn out fittings, attachment devices, hose and accessory items must be
- All hose assemblies be tested in accordance with the hose manufacturer’s specifications. The application determines the regularity of the re-testing schedule.
- Retaining devices (safety devices) such as clips, cables or chains must be used. Clamps must be checked regularly to the specified
- Under no circumstance should any coupling be disconnected while under pressure unless the coupling is specifically designed to do
- Disconnecting couplings under pressure could result in serious injury or death, and destruction to property and equipment. Hence ensure that the pressure is fully released while disconnecting couplings under pressure.
- Any leaks on a hydraulic circuit shall be rectified immediately as per manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Oil & lubricants shall be stored as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Monitor the shelf life of oil & lubricants, never use expired items.
Safety Precautions for Jack
- All jacks – lever and ratchet jacks, screw jacks, and hydraulic jacks – must have a device that stops them from jacking up too high.
- Manufacturer’s load limit must be permanently marked in a prominent place on the jack and should not be exceeded.
- A jack should never be used to support a lifted load. Once the load has been lifted, it must immediately be blocked
- Use wooden blocking under the base if necessary to make the jack
level and secure. If the lift surface is metal, place a 1-inch-thick hardwood block or equivalent between it and the metal jack head to reduce the danger of slippage.
To set up a jack, make certain of the following:
- the base rests on a firm level surface,
- the jack is correctly centered,
- the jack head bears against a level surface, and
- the lift force is applied
- Proper maintenance of jacks is essential for safety.
- All jacks must be inspected before each use and lubricated
- If a jack is subjected to an abnormal load or shock, it should be thoroughly examined to make sure it has not been