Power Tool Safety

In this video we’re going to learn hand and power tool safety and how following the rules just might save you a limb or two!

As a mechanic, service technician, or even a yard laborer at Service Sanitation, there’s a good chance you’ll be required to use a power tool or hand tool sometime during your employment.

According to a study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, hand and power tool injuries send an average of 400,000 people to the emergency room each year. These types of tools have been known to cause lacerations, puncture wounds, dismemberment, burns, electrical shock, and even death. Fortunately, there are many preventative measures that employees can take to prevent tool injuries from occurring while in the workplace.

The difference between a hand tool and power tool

Let’s start by reviewing the difference between a hand tool and a power tool.  Hand tools are tools that require manual labor to use. Common hand tools found within our organization include hammers, pliers, wrenches, and screwdrivers. Unlike power tools, hand tools typically offer more control of the tool and flexibility as you can use them anytime, anywhere, as they don't require a power source to work.

Power tools, on the other hand, require a power source to operate. Unlike hand tools, power tools generally offer more power (or force) and accuracy. This can be by way of a battery, air compressor, or electricity. Power tools also have motors and other mechanisms that allow them to run more efficiently and more powerfully than their manual counterparts.

Equipment Dangers

It’s important to note that employees who use hand and power tools frequently are often exposed to the hazards of flying debris, harmful dust, fumes, sparks, vapors, or gases.  Because of this, it’s important that proper safety policies and protocols are followed at all times. 

Power Tool Equipment Policies

To ensure the safety of our employees and those around them, Service Sanitation has a strict power tools equipment policy.  This policy states that all employees are prohibited from using ANY power tool without having first been trained by a company supervisor.  Any team member in violation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to, and including termination. This policy does NOT apply to hand tools

Routine Inspection

After you’ve been issued your tools and have been properly trained on any power tools in your possession, you’ll need to perform a routine daily inspection to ensure they’re safe for operation. You’ll need to inspect the handles, tool edges, power cords, hoses, switches, triggers, casings and attachments. Check each tool for cracks, dings, and chips.  Most power tools on the market today cannot be repaired and should be thrown away. If a power tool looks or feels damaged, do NOT attempt to use this tool.  Immediately contact your supervisor for help. It should never be modified to work. 


After inspecting each tool, it’s important that you suit up with the proper personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. The type of PPE you’ll need will depend on the tool being used and the hazard(s) created by use of the tool. At a minimum, steel toe boots and eye protection in the form of safety glasses or goggles must be worn at ALL times. For larger or more dangerous tools, additional PPE such as face shields, welding masks, or earplugs may be required. If dust, fumes or mists are present, a proper respirator must also need to be worn, or adequate ventilation might be required. Gloves on the other hand can sometimes be hazardous with some tools as there’s a chance of the material could get caught in the equipment or material being worked. Always use discretion in these scenarios.

Dress Appropriately:

Along with wearing the proper PPE, it’s important to remember to dress appropriately.  Loose-fitting clothing such as draping sleeves, baggy shirts, or floppy pant legs are hazardous around powered equipment and should never be worn in these scenarios. Long hair should always be pulled back so that it does not hang in front of the ears.  Jewelry such as rings, necklaces, and pendants should also be removed before operating powered tools or equipment.

Hand Tool Safety

The greatest hazards posed by hand tools are often a result of misuse, improper maintenance, or pinch points. Hand tools can also be hazardous when working around flammable substances as sparks can by sometimes be produced by the iron or steel that makes up the tool.  In these situations, it’s best to use spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood.

Utilizing a combination of common sense, proper PPE, awareness of your work environment, and routine inspection of your tools should provide adequate protection in the workplace when working with hand tools.

Power Tool Safety

Power tools can be hazardous when improperly used. Here are a few quick tips to ensure power tool safety in maintained at all times.

  • All observers should be kept at a safe distance when in operation.
  • Always use the right tool for the job and operate according to the manufacture’s instruction.
  • Materials should be secured with clamps or a vise, freeing both hands to operate the tool.
  • Avoid holding the power switch when carrying a plugged-in tool.
  • Keep tools clean, lubricated, and sharp for the best performance.
  • Always maintain proper balance and good footing when operating a power tool.
  • Properly store all power tools when not in use to prevent damage and potential hazards to others.

Check Electrical Connections:

For electric power tools, you’ll need to make sure you’re working in a suitable environment free of water, extreme dust, extreme heat, sharp edges, or near flammable liquids or vapors.  When using a temporary power source, make sure a ground-fault circuit interrupter is used to prevent electric shock.   Always disconnect electrical connections when tools are not in use, when servicing, and when changing bits or attachments. Never carry a tool by the cord as this can cause the electrical connections to come loose and cause a fire or shock hazard. When unplugging, always unplug by pulling the plug itself and do not yank on not the cord.