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Risks Associated With the Use of Pneumatic Tools

Updated February 21, 2017

Pneumatic tools are powered by air under high pressure. Risks associated with pneumatic tools include damage to skin, eyes, ears and fingers. With proper precautions, you can use pneumatic tools day after day with no danger. Air-powered tools are efficient and can perform certain tasks better than any other type of tool.

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Protect eyes at all times when working around air tools. Nail guns shoot nails like bullets. They can fire on accident; when using a nail gun all day you can become complacent; you might not always watch where the gun is pointing. Other eye risks include air discharge from any air tool that is in operation. Air escaping under high pressure blows dirt and debris into the air at high velocity. A discharging air tool can pick up debris that can be embedded into the eye. Always wear safety glasses around air tools.


Air under pressure can actually penetrate the skin. Air can get under the skin and lift it up. Air discharge from the end of a sander or any air tool can enter the skin through any lesion. Once the entry point is open, the air progresses instantly as far as it can under the skin, blowing it up like a balloon. It is extremely painful. Always aim air discharge ports of pneumatic tools away from skin.


High-velocity air spins pneumatic grinding wheels hundreds or thousands of revolutions per minute. The saw-bladelike wheels or bits can easily cut fingers or any extremities they touch. When plugging an air hose into an air tool, you should always take precautions to keep fingers off triggers and away from spinning objects. Other possible finger injuries occur when fast-moving wheels or bits bounce off the objects they are being used on. If a bounce catches a finger or extremity, you could lose that extremity instantly.


Hearing loss can be directly attributed to air tools. High-velocity air creates a high-frequency sound that rises well above the recommended decibel level approved for normal exposure. Prolonged exposure to high-frequency noise can damage hearing. Other risks involve the discharge of air from air tools into the ear canals, causing possible physical damage to ear drums. Always wear hearing protection around air tools.

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About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.

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