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5 Tips for Safe(r) Power Tool Use

There is no National Power Tool Month – at least as far as we can tell. But, if there were, June would probably be it. Nicer weather often means it’s time for home-improvement projects, and besides, what’s a better Father’s Day gift than a new drill or circular saw?

(To be fair, power tools make great Mother’s Day gifts as well, depending on the mom.)

More power, however, can also mean more problems, especially when it comes to safety. So, follow these five tips from the Power Tool Institute and other organizations to get the most out of your tools and help protect yourself at the same time.

  1. Read the instructions. More importantly, follow them. Even if you’ve used a particular type of power tool before, there are differences between brands and models. The instructions are there for a reason — to help you use the tool both safely and effectively. Often you’ll see warning labels on the tool itself; read and follow those, too. After all, if the manufacturers put it in the instructions and on the tool, it’s something they clearly don’t want you to miss.
  2. Gear up. Safety gear, that is. You need safety goggles or glasses that have side shields, and hearing protection if the tool is particularly loud or you’ll be using it for long periods. For projects that can kick up a lot of dust or other fine debris, wear a protective breathing mask. And, don’t overlook the importance of your clothing. Don’t wear loose or dangling items; instead, choose clothing that is comfortable and protective. Think jeans and long-sleeve shirts, instead of shorts and tank tops.
  3. Take your time, and keep control. Remember, your project isn’t a race. Treating it like one might increase the risk of injury (you probably won’t do your best work, either). Take the time to use power tools properly. That means never under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if you’re tired, sick or otherwise distracted. Use clamps to secure what you’re working on so both of your hands are free to grip the tool. And, always make sure your work area is stable, clean and well-lit and that children and pets are not nearby.
  4. Maintain your tools. You can prolong the life of your tools by following the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions and using common sense. Never carry a tool by the cord. Always disconnect it or switch it off when you’re done using a tool or when changing accessories. Keep your tools clean and store them in a safe, secure place out of reach of children. Don’t ever use a tool that has a warped or bent blade, or that has been otherwise damaged in any way.
  5. Keep track of what you’ve got. No, we’re not talking about getting that drill back from your neighbor (although you should probably do that, too). But, if you have expensive tools, make sure you add them to your home inventory. Power tools are inviting targets for thieves, as they’re typically stored in places, such as a garage or shed, that are much easier to break into than your home. Having a list of your tools, with serial numbers and even receipts if possible, will make replacing them a lot easier.

You’ve got the tools. Now you’ve got the knowledge. The only thing left is for you to get to work. Enjoy!

Posted by Safeco June 13, 2016


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