Safety Tips - Portable Power Tools

Eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles, is especially important when using power tools.  The speed at which drills, saws, grinders, sanders and routers operate can propel small particles much faster and farther than hand tools. Others working around the area where power tools are used should also wear protective eyewear. Certain power tools may require using a face shield, in addition to safety glasses or goggles. For example, a face shield is suggested while using a grinder, due to the amount of hot metal particles generated. A face shield is considered a secondary form of eye protection and should always be used in conjunction with a primary from of protection – safety glasses or goggles. OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection eTool describes the role of a face shield as PPE this way, “When worn alone, face shields do not protect employees from impact hazards. Use face shields in combination with safety spectacles or goggles, even in the absence of dust or potential splashes, for additional protection beyond that offered by spectacles or goggles alone.”

Standard cotton or leather work gloves can protect your hands from minor scrapes and cuts while working with various materials. Cut-resistant gloves are not designed for, or capable of providing protection against a moving blade or bit. The best way to prevent injury from moving parts is to keep your hands on the tools' handles and keep all guards in place. Anti-vibration gloves minimize the vibration created by hammerdrills and rotary hammerdrills.

Safety footwear is recommended when using power tools. Safety shoes with a nonslip, electrically insulated sole and a protective toe cap will provide protection against dropped objects and misdirected electricity.

The higher sound levels generated by some power tools, especially if used over extended periods of time, may require the use of earplugs or earmuffs. Power sanding and grinding operations may require the use of a particulate respirator. Each situation must be analyzed to determine the type of PPE that is required for the safe use of each type of power tool.

Along with PPE, proper attire is also important while using power tools. Tie back or cover long hair and don’t wear loose or torn clothing. Hair and clothing that strays too far from the body can get caught in power tools. Because of this potential, loose jewelry should be avoided as well.