Getting a Grip on Hand and Power Tools Safety


Tools are such a common part of our lives that it is difficult to remember they pose hazards. All tools are manufactured with safety in mind but, tragically, a serious accident often occurs before steps are taken to search out and avoid or eliminate tool-related hazards.

As an employer you are responsible for the maintenance of your company’s tools, instruction on how to use tools, providing the proper personal protection equipment and ensuring this equipment is properly utilized.

If you do not have this policy in place you could face fines from OSHA, suffer lost productivity and endure a possible lawsuit.

To help protect your business we have developed a tool safety training program that addresses the tools in your industry.

This thorough training package is like no other in the industry. It is designed to keep your company compliant and your employees safe.

Read on for more information on the hazards of tools, cost of injury, effectiveness of training and your requirements.

If you have questions at any point please call us at 877-804-8786.

Hazards of Hand and Power Tools

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 400,000 people suffer power tool injuries each year. Of those injured, more than 200 die.

It is without a doubt that the improper use of power tools or not using the proper personal protection equipment with these tools can cause injury or death.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • One out of every 10 construction industry employees is injured annually.
  • 1,000 construction workers are killed every year on-site.
  • A typical construction injury results in more than 30 days of missed work.
  • Construction workers, under the age of 35, have a higher incidence of injury.
  • Injuries to the back and ribs are the most common.

Tool Hazards

Hand tools are tools that are powered manually. Hand tools include anything from axes to wrenches. The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance.

Some examples include the following:

  • 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.

Electric tools are hand tools that are powered with electricity. They include saws, drills and more.

Electrical shocks, which can lead to injuries such as heart failure and burns, are among the major hazards associated with electric powered tools. Under certain conditions, even a small amount of electric current can result in fibrillation of the heart and death. An electric shock also can cause the user to fall off a ladder or other elevated work surface and be injured due to the fall.

Pneumatic tools are powered by compressed air and include chippers, drills, hammers, and sanders.

There are several dangers associated with the use of pneumatic tools. First and foremost is the danger of getting hit by one of the tool’s attachments or by some kind of fastener the worker is using with the tool.

Fuel-powered tools are usually operated with gasoline. The most serious hazard associated with the use of fuel-powered tools comes from fuel vapors that can burn or explode and also give off dangerous exhaust fumes.

Powder-actuated tools operate like a loaded gun and must be treated with extreme caution. Hazards of these tools include flying materials, the extreme pressure the tools give off and more.

Hydraulic Power tools use a liquid to drive their motion. These tools present similar dangers as electric powered tools.

While physical harm is an unfortunate circumstance of unsafe tool behavior, it is not the only problem.

An annual study conducted by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in 2010, revealed that the direct cost to employers from injuries in 2008 was $53.42 billion. [1]

Furthermore the study concluded that accidents at the workplace were estimated to cost employers an additional $80 to $200 billion annually.

A second report by the U.S. Department of Labor cemented the finding of the insurance groups report. This report stated the average workplace injury cost an employer $43,000. The same study estimated the cost from wage replacement due to injury to be roughly $50 billion a year.

“An accident at the workplace can often be the difference between operating in the black and falling into the red,” said Safety Services CEO Devon Dickenson.

OSHA Safety Requirements

Although OSHA does not have specific regulations for each hand and power tool, the group has stated through regulation, 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) you must train all employees on the hazards of the workplace.

In addition to maintenance and training you must ensure employees have the appropriate personal protective equipment, e.g., safety goggles, gloves, etc., and are correctly using that equipment.

Other safety measures OSHA recommends include floors be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent accidental slips with or around dangerous hand tools and where flammable material exist, spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood will provide for safety.

While OSHA does not have a specific regulation for power tools, the organization does require you have in place the assured equipment grounding conductor program to protect your employees from electrical shock when using power tools.

This program should outline your specific procedures for the required equipment inspections, tests, and test schedule.

You may provide additional tests or procedures. The required tests must be recorded, and the record maintained until replaced by a more current record. The written program description and the recorded tests must be made available, at the jobsite, to OSHA and to any affected employee upon request. You are required to designate one or more competent persons to implement the program.

“…have the appropriate personal protective equipment, e.g., safety goggles, gloves, etc., and are correctly using that equipment.”

The Benefits of Safety Training

While the blow of a workplace injury is crippling to many companies, safety training programs are proven to drastically reduce the risk of injury and increase workplace productivity.

Through independent studies OSHA has confirmed employers who have in place a safety and health training program experience a 52 percent lower rate of “injury with days away” than employers without a program. [2]
A second study of private industry employers by OSHA found even more benefits to a safety training program.

Here are a few highlights of those programs:

Company Benefits: [3]

  • Average Sales rose 7.5 percent
  • Manufacturing defects and waste dropped from $2.7 million in 2001 to $435,000 in 2005
  • Improved decision-making
  • EMR dropped by 45%

The value of training is further emphasized by a study of 41 workers hospitalized for hand injuries. Through the survey of these employees conducted by members of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) it was discovered more than half had no on the job training for the equipment that caused their injury.

Workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent, according to OSHA.

Studies not only show the impact safety training has in increasing productivity and preventing injury. It shows the value training has to prevent casualties. [4]

A NIOSH study of 55 confined workplace fatalities found that only three of those losing their lives ever received training on the proper workplace safety procedures.

A study of the California insurance industry also revealed that every dollar invested in safety training resulted in $3 or more dollars in savings,”

Safety training is not a cost, it is an investment.

There is a Better Solution

By requesting and reading this report you are no doubt aware of the hazards associated with aerial and the long list of regulations your company must abide by.

Meeting these regulations is a tedious process requiring you to either develop a training program yourself or to outsource with expensive safety consultants.

There is a better solution.

Here at Safety Services we have developed a “Do-It-Yourself” training program that is both simple to administer and fulfills all your OSHA requirements.

This innovative kit features an Interactive Training Program, Student’s Handbook, Instructor’s Handbook, OSHA Regulations, Student Tests, Training Logs, Fall Protection Checklist, Certificates, Wallet Cards and More.

Material covered Applicable OSHA standards

  • OSHA requirements
  • Accident Prevention
  • General requirements
  • Hand tools
  • Power tools
  • Abrasive wheels
  • Jacks
  • Training Requirements
  • Inspections
  • And much more

Our $449.99 kit is a simple three-step solution that brings all your employees into compliance.

1. Classroom/online training
The first step of our program is an intuitive electronic training session. Through the program employees navigate an electronic training program at a computer and then take an automatically graded test. If computers are not available materials are printable for a traditional classroom or onsite training seminar.

2. Field training
The second part of training is in the field. During this portion of the session your appointed trainer shows the trainee the infield applications of the materials they learned in the classroom session.

3. Evaluation
The third and final step to the training session is evaluation. Through this step the trainer evaluates the trainee and either signs off on certification or retouches on topics that need more work.

All certification through the program meets or exceeds OSHA requirements.

In addition to meeting training requirements, the kit provides instruction on how to craft your scaffolding written policy.

If you are not comfortable writing your own policy we can provide the service for an additional fee.

Have a question or ready to order give us a call at 1-888-840-9276.


This publication does not itself alter or determine compliance responsibilities, which are set forth in OSHA standards themselves and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Moreover, because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements, the reader should consult current and administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Courts.