Power Drilling Your Way to 0 Incidents

Mike Rich

Preventing Drill Press Injuries

Portable power drills are one of the most useful tools in the construction industry, but without the proper safety training they can quickly become one of the most dangerous. According to a study released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 2,500 people a year receive hospital treatment for drill press injuries. To prevent injuries associated with power drills, OSHA requires employers to train employees on proper maintenance and safe handling of power drills. Here is a quick look at steps you and your employees can take to prevent some of the most common power drill injuries.

Avoiding Electric Shock

  • Look for breaks, exposed wires, and looseness at the plug or housing connections. Unless the drill is double insulated, be sure there is a ground wire and the third prong has not been cut off.
  • Use only extension cords that are free of splices, taps, bare wires, or frayed and deteriorated insulation.
  • Use 3-prong adapters.
  • Check that the electrical circuit to be used is of the proper rating and that cords, plugs, and fittings are intact and secure.
  • Never carry a tool by the cord.
  • Never yank the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle.
  • Keep cords away from heat, oil, and sharp edges (including the cutting surface of a power saw or drill).
  • Do not use electric tools in damp or wet locations unless they are approved for that purpose.
  • Use Double-Insulated tools.

Preventing Face and Hand Injuries

  • Examine your drill to make sure that it is clean. If the drill is dirty or rusty, tag it and return it to supply for maintenance.
  • Make sure the drill speed is proper for the job. Pull the trigger to be sure it doesn’t work too easily or too hard and that power cuts off when the trigger is released.
  • Be sure drill bits are set straight in the jaws. Hold up the drill and turn it on for a moment. The bit should run without any wobble. If it wobbles, either the bit isn’t straight or it’s in the jaws crooked. A sharp bit will take hold without much pressure.
  • Starting the drilling at the right angle and keeping straight, takes steadiness and care. If a drill isn’t held just right, the bit may bend or break, sending metal flying. Use a pointed metal punch to start your drill right.
  • When drilling into metal, be aware of the material’s hardness. Soft metals like copper or aluminum cut with little pressure. Hard steel needs a different bit. More pressure must be applied, but care is necessary because too much will make the drill overheat and bind.
  • Do not allow anyone to use an electric drill that is not properly trained.
  • Be familiar with the power drill being used. When using a new or unfamiliar tool, take time to “test-run” it and get a feel for its performance.


  • Always wear eye protection.
  • Wear clothing appropriate for drilling or boring; avoid long, loose shirtsleeves, neckwear, or untied long hair. These types of hazards can be caught in the drill.
  • When possible, always secure your work on a stable platform using clamps or vices. A secured work piece will help ensure straight drilling.
  • Prior to beginning drilling operations, inspect each work piece for nails, knots, or flaws that could cause the tool to buck or jump.
  • Use gloves and appropriate safety footwear when using electric tools.
  • If any operational problems are noted, remove the drill from service and get it repaired immediately.

Call (888) 247-6139 today to speak with one of our safety solutions experts about stopping drill press injuries in your shop.

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