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Hand and Power Tools

Learning Objectives

  • Identify general hazards associated with hand and portable power tool use, and the safety practices for protecting against these hazards.
  • Identify appropriate safety practices for electrical equipment.
  • Recognize safety requirements for operator controls and guards.
  • Identify appropriate safety practices for hand (manually-powered) tools.
  • Identify safety requirements for using portable abrasive wheel tools.
  • Identify appropriate safety practices for hydraulic and pneumatic tools.
  • Identify proper use of liquid-fueled and powder-actuated tools.
  • Recognize when tools must be inspected, and what actions to take if damage is found.

Available in English

35 minutes


Power tool injuries account for as many as 400,000 emergency room visits each year.

Labor Statistics, OSHA


The use of tools enables us to work much more productively, but hand and power tools can expose workers to flying objects like sparks and metal and wood splinters, electrical shock, and sharp blades and loud noises.

As tool users, employees have a primary role in safety. Employees must have clear, established safety protocols for working with each unique piece of equipment, and workers must follow those procedures when using tools, while relying on training to operate equipment safely.

First, workers must dress for the job by removing loose clothing or articles that could get caught in a tool’s moving parts, including jewelry when necessary. They must also wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when required; even with hand tools the job or the tool will often require specific personal protective equipment. PPE only works if you wear it.

Basic Safety Precautions:

  • Using the right tool for the job—a wrench is not a hammer.
  • Following manufacturer instructions—don’t by-pass safety features.
  • Never carrying a power tool by its cord.
  • Never yanking a cord or hose to disconnect it from the power source.
  • When appropriate, secure work with a clamp or vise to keep it from slipping.
  • Be careful to keep footing and balance stable when working with dangerous tools.
  • Be aware of the other people around you and keep them at a safe distance.

Misuse occurs when a tool is used for a job other than its intended purpose and can lead to tool failure. Never force or modify a tool to get the job done. 

Preventing Hand Tool Hazards

  • Do not use tools with damaged handles or cracked saw blades
  • Remove damaged tools from service until they are repaired or replaced
  • Do not use tools with dull blades
  • Keep knives and scissors sharp
  • Wear appropriate PPE, such as goggles and gloves
  • Keep floors clean
  • Make certain tools are in good condition before use

Electric portable power tools must:

  • Be double insulated, or;
  • Have a three-wire cord with ground;
  • Be plugged into a grounded receptacle and a ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) device;
  • Or be powered by a low-voltage isolation transformer.
  • Never remove the third prong from the plug.

Construction industry employees must be protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters or an assured equipment-grounding conductor program.

Machine guards protect you from exposed moving parts on power tools. This includes blades, belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, flywheels, chains, and other rotating or moving parts of the equipment. Guards also prevent flying objects, chips, and sparks from striking you. Guards should not be removed, altered, or by-passed in any way.

An exception to this requirement involves abrasive wheel tools. Where work provides a suitable measure of protection to the operator, the spindle end, nut, and outer flange may be exposed. Also, when the nature of the work is such as to entirely cover the side of the wheel, the side covers of the guard may be removed. If guarding must be removed to perform work, make sure a policy is place that clearly describes such circumstances and the means of communicating and training employees about this exposure hazard.

Preventing Fuel-Powered Tool Hazards

  • Shut down engine and let cool before refilling the tank.
  • Have effective ventilation and/or wear respirators to avoid breathing carbon monoxide.
  • Handle and store gasoline only in approved flammable liquid containers and in accordance with general flammable liquid handling, use and storage requirements.

Safety Precautions for Powder-Actuated Tools

  • Inspect the tool before use to determine it’s clean and all moving parts operate freely.
  • Make sure the barrel is free from obstructions and has the proper shield, guard, and attachments.
  • Do not use a tool in an explosive or flammable atmosphere.
  • Do not load the tool unless it will be used immediately.
  • Do not leave a loaded tool unattended.
  • Keep hands clear of the barrel end.
  • Never point the tool at anyone.
Course Outline
  • Introduction
  • Preventing Hazards
  • Hand (Manually-Powered) Tools
  • Electric Portable Power Tools
  • Portable Power Tool Controls and Guards
  • Portable Abrasive Wheel Tools
  • Liquid-Fueled and Powder-Actuated Tools
  • Pneumatic and Hydraulic Tools
  • Inspection and Maintenance
Regulations
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart P, 1910.241, 1910.242, 1910.243, 1910.244
  • 29 CFR 1926.300, Subpart I