How many tools do you use on any given day? You probably use hand tools, power tools, powder actuated tools, and pneumatic tools to name a few. All of these tools make our work much easier. But to really be effective tools have to be in good shape and used safely. Broken or damaged tools should never be used. Consider the following every time you pick up a tool:
Inspection: Don’t take a new tool out of the box and assume that it is good to go. Occasionally, tools slip past the manufacturer’s quality assurance program and they are shipped out damaged or missing important parts. Always inspect tools, new or not, before you start using them.
Handling: There are good and bad ways to hold and carry tools. Hold them by the handles, not the cords. Don’t carry a tool with your finger on the trigger. Keep blades protected.
Attachments: If the tool has attachments, make sure they fit properly and are securely in place. You will almost always have to lock out the tool in order to add or remove attachments safely.
Adjustment: Learn how to safely adjust the tool you’re using. It’s much safer to complete a training class than to just wing it. Some adjustments can be made “on-the fly;’ for others you will have to follow lockout procedures.
Storage: Place tools in a safe place, like their cases, a rack, or a gang box for storage. Make sure your storage area is clean and dry. Lock tools up to prevent unauthorized use or theft.
Lubrication: Many tools require daily or weekly lubrication to keep them running smoothly. Whether you do your own maintenance, or it gets done at a central location, make sure all tools are lubricated properly and on schedule.
Cleaning: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure that you have the right cleaning materials available. Never use compressed oxygen or gasoline to clean tools.
Sharpening: Remember that tool maintenance includes keeping blades, bits, and cutters sharp. A dull blade is more likely to cause an injury than a sharp one.
Personal Protective Equipment: Always wear the required PPE when operating a tool or performing maintenance. You’ll almost always need it, so just make eye protection a habit.
Removing a Tool from Service: If you find that a tool is not working properly, is broken, damaged, or has a broken safety device, tag it “Do Not Use:’ Don’t wait. Take the tool out of service immediately and inform your supervisor.
Safety Devices and Switches: Never remove, disable, or bypass any safety device. They are there for your protection.
Operator’s Manual: Read and follow all instructions.