ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Employees who use hand and power tools are exposed to the hazards of falling, flying, abrasive and splashing objects. They also may be subject to harmful dusts, fumes, mists, vapors or gases.

Personal Protective Equipment must be used according to the Job Hazard Analysis, work instructions and what is appropriate for the task.

Employees should be able to recognize the hazards associated with the different types of tools and the safety precautions necessary.


Five basic safety rules can help prevent hazards associated with the use of hand and power tools:
• Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
• Use the right tool for the job.
• Examine each tool for damage before use and do not use damaged tools.
• Operate tools according to the manufacturers' instructions.
• Properly use the right personal protective equipment.


Hand tools are tools that are powered manually. Hand tools include items such as chisels to wrenches. The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance.

Some examples include:
• If a chisel is used as a screwdriver, the tip of the chisel may break and fly off, hitting the user or other employees.
• If a wooden handle on a tool, such as a hammer or an axe, is loose, splintered or cracked, the head of the tool may fly off and strike the user or other employees.
• If the jaws of a wrench are sprung, the wrench might slip.
• If impact tools, such as chisels, wedges or drift pins, have mushroomed heads, the heads might shatter on impact, sending sharp fragments flying toward the user or other employees.

When using saw blades, knives or other tools, the user should direct the tools away from aisle areas and away from other employees working in close proximity.

Knives and scissors must be sharp; dull tools can cause more hazards than sharp ones.

Cracked saw blades must be removed from service.

Wrenches must not be used when jaws are sprung to the point that slippage occurs.

Impact tools, such as drift pins, wedges and chisels must be free of mushroomed heads.

The wooden handles of tools must not be splintered.

Iron or steel hand tools may produce sparks which can be an ignition source around flammable substances.

Where flammable gases, highly volatile liquids and other explosive substances are stored or used, spark-resistant tools made of non-ferrous materials should be utilized.


Power tools must be fitted with guards and safety switches; they are extremely hazardous when used improperly.

The types of power tools are determined by their power source: electric, pneumatic, liquid fuel, hydraulic and powder-actuated.

All electrical connections for these tools must be suitable for the type of tool and the working conditions (wet, dusty, flammable vapors). Employees must be trained in the proper use of all tools.

To prevent hazards associated with the use of power tools, employees should observe the following general precautions:
• Never carry a tool by the cord or hose.
• Never yank the cord or the hose to disconnect it from the receptacle.
• Keep cords and hoses away from heat, oil and sharp edges.
• Disconnect tools when not using them, before servicing or cleaning them, and when changing accessories such as blades, bits and cutters.
• Keep all people not involved with the work at a safe distance from the work area.
• Secure work with clamps or a vise, freeing both hands to operate the tool.
• Avoid accidental starting. Do not hold fingers on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool.
• Maintain tools with care; keep them sharp and clean for best performance.
• Follow instructions in the user's manual for lubricating and changing accessories.
• Be sure to keep good footing and maintain good balance when operating power tools.
• Wear proper apparel for the task. Loose clothing, ties or jewelry can become caught in moving parts.
• Remove all damaged portable electric tools from use and tag them: "Do Not Use."


Portable abrasive grinding, cutting, polishing, and wire buffing wheels create special safety problems because they may throw off flying fragments. Abrasive wheel tools must be equipped with guards that:
(1) Cover the spindle end, nut, and flange projections
(2) Maintain proper alignment with the wheel
(3) Do not exceed the strength of the fastenings.

Before an abrasive wheel is mounted, it must be inspected closely for damage and should be sound- or ring-tested to ensure that it is free from cracks or defects. To test, wheels should be tapped gently with a light, non-metallic instrument. If the wheels sound cracked or dead, they must not be used because they could fly apart in operation. A stable and undamaged wheel, when tapped, will give a clear metallic tone or "ring."

To prevent an abrasive wheel from cracking, it must fit freely on the spindle. The spindle nut must be tightened enough to hold the wheel in place without distorting the flange. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Take care to ensure that the spindle speed of the machine will not exceed the maximum operating speed marked on the wheel.

An abrasive wheel may disintegrate or explode during start-up. Allow the tool to come up to operating speed prior to grinding or cutting. The employee should never stand in the plane of rotation of the wheel as it accelerates to full operating speed. Portable grinding tools need to be equipped with safety guards to protect workers not only from the moving wheel surface, but also from flying fragments in case of wheel breakage.

When using a powered grinder:
• Always use eye or face protection.
• Turn off the power when not in use.
• Never clamp a hand-held grinder in a vise.

Source: OSHA Pamphlet 3080, Hand and Power Tools