Many of us depend on power tools for our livelihoods. For some, they are a passion, while others fall in between. Regardless of our reasons for using them, we can all agree that power tools demand our utmost respect. This is especially true when it comes to accidental injuries. To keep you alert and aware, we would like to outline the primary causes of power tool accidents.
1. Removing the table saw blade guard
We’ve all heard it before, and we understand the temptation. Many online reviews contain statements like, “The first thing I’m going to do is remove the blade guard!” Yes, it may make you feel tough, but here’s the thing: 100% of all blade contact injuries occur without a blade guard. It takes considerable effort to injure yourself if the blade guard is in place. Using a Sawstop saw or relying on physical detection technology becomes unnecessary if you simply keep the blade guard on. However, certain cuts may require the blade guard to be temporarily removed. In these situations, it is essential to use secondary safety tools such as push rods and feather boards. Remember, removing the blade guard on a table saw tops the list of power tool accidents. I personally witnessed two close friends lose their fingertips due to incorrect table saw usage.
2. Trips and falls from cords or messy workflow
Have you ever encountered a store or website that appears dangerous? Do you own a shop or job site that creates a hazardous environment? Neglecting to address potential tripping hazards is not worth the risk. Take five minutes to tidy up by moving ropes and sweeping the area. This small effort can prevent accidents and save countless hours of downtime, not to mention pain. Keep an eye out for protruding Romex cords, loose extension cords, and other materials left lying around. Clear pathways and eliminate anything that could cause trips or falls. Tripping may not sound dangerous, but it becomes a significant hazard when carrying tools or heavy objects. Although cordless power tools are becoming more prevalent, tripping hazards still exist on job sites, extending beyond just extension cords. Awareness and vigilance will keep you and your team safe.
3. Lack of cut protection
Sharp tools are great for getting the job done efficiently, but they pose a risk to your skin. To avoid cuts, it is crucial to have the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and treat the materials and tools with care. Use cut-resistant gloves, especially when working with sheet metal or a utility knife. Investing in a good pair of work boots with puncture resistance is essential for heavy-duty work, where stepping on sharp objects is a possibility. Always remember to respect moving blades by wearing closed-toe shoes when using edgers, trimmers, lawn mowers, or other tools with blades.
4. Electric shock and arc
When working with electrical equipment, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards. Report any unknown chemicals or materials found near electrical equipment. Be cautious when using power tools around flammable gases or liquids. High voltage or high current arcs can cause severe burns or fatalities, but even smaller voltage surges can still pose a threat. Always consider the worst-case scenario and plan accordingly. Additionally, properly maintain corded power tools and inspect extension cords for frays or potential shorts, especially in areas near water.
5. Insufficient eye and face protection
Eye protection is crucial when working with power tools, especially when using abrasive cutting blades. While safety glasses or goggles protect your eyes, they may not shield the rest of your face adequately. Tools like grinders, operating at high rotational speeds, can cause severe injury if the cutting wheel disintegrates. To mitigate the potential damage from such accidents, a face shield is necessary.
6. Inability to stabilize oneself at height
Fall hazards are the leading cause of worker injuries on job sites, often exacerbated by incorrect ladder usage. It is crucial to avoid using tools in unstable conditions, as you don’t want to worry about dropping your power tool while trying to prevent a fall. Taking fall safety seriously requires investing in appropriate safety harnesses and fall arrest equipment. Understanding when and how to construct temporary railings for specific structures and tasks is also important. Prioritize personal stability and balance, and avoid reaching or using tools until you are completely stable.
7. Not paying attention
Many individuals who have been injured on the job site or in a workshop admit that they were distracted or not paying close attention. Even experienced professionals can be susceptible to this. Familiarity with tools and techniques can lead to complacency and a lack of focus on the task at hand. It is crucial to stay fully present and avoid taking anything for granted. Conduct a mental “reset” before starting work or picking up a tool to remind yourself of the potential risks. Paying attention can prevent injuries and accidents.
8. Lack of humility
This final cause encompasses a range of behaviors that often contribute to injuries. Not asking for help when needed indicates a lack of humility. Engaging in tool usage without proper training is another example. Rushing to finish a task before others can be a sign of a lack of humility. It is essential to remember that power tools possess incredible cutting, sawing, grinding, or driving capabilities. Respecting their power is crucial. Overconfidence and disregard for safety protocols can lead to devastating accidents. Always prioritize safety and never underestimate the potential risks associated with power tools.
While not the most exciting topic, we hope this article serves as a helpful reminder. We want you to be both productive and safe on the job site. It is entirely possible and ultimately defines you as a company or employer that prioritizes crew safety. Remember, safety is more important than you may realize. If we missed anything in this article, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. We value your input!