Although indispensable to many building and repair projects, power tools present serious safety risks. The primary dangers stem from sharp, moving components and electricity. Safe practices should be the first concern of any tool operator and, particularly for professionals, safe power tool operation must become second nature. Going through a written or mental safety checklist is a prerequisite to using power tools and can literally save your life.
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Right tool for the job?
Perhaps the leading cause of power tool-related injury is using the wrong tool for a particular task. For example, you might know that circular saws create straight cuts through work material. But do you know what type of circular saw blade cuts through wood and what type of blade cuts through concrete? Using the wrong attachments, such as saw blades, can cause motors to overheat, jerk or kickback at tool operators. Before choosing a power tool, ask if the tool is intended to perform the task at hand and ask if the tool is powerful enough or too powerful for the task at hand. Never force a power tool to perform a job it's not capable of performing.
Once certain that you have the right tool for the job, ensure that the tool is in proper, working order. Malfunctioning tools not only produce poor results, they also pose serious threats to tool operators. Check the tool for missing parts, loose parts, dull components and general wear and tear. Fully operational safety features, such as saw blade guards, and on or off switches are particularly important.
Familiarity with a Tool's Operation
To safely operate a tool, the worker must have at least a rudimentary familiarity with the tool's operation. If this is your first time to use a particular tool, or if you have never seen the tool in action, do not attempt to operate the tool until you become familiar with its capabilities and features. Read the tool's operation manual, ask an experienced individual about the tool or observe the tool in use before you attempt to operate it.
What to Wear - Safety Gear and Safe Work Clothing
Safety gear protects against injuries that no amount of preparation can prevent. Safety goggles are a necessity when using nearly every power tool; moving blades, bits and parts regularly cause shavings, sparks and sawdust to fly directly at a tool operator's face. Gloves and respiratory protection, such as a face mask, complete a basic set of safety gear. Assess your project to determine if you require additional safety gear. Proper work attire is as important as safety gear. Loose-fitting garments and jewellery threaten to become caught in blades, bits and moving parts or simply trip-up a tool operator while working.
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