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From tightening a screw, to cutting wood, to mixing ingredients, tools are used in every major workplace today. Tools are an integral part of our lives and have become so commonplace they are almost an extension of us and our hands. We have tools for almost every task, tools specific to right and left-handed workers and gadgets for tasks so easy, such as opening a pop can, they can often be overlooked, and their dangers forgotten.
Types of Tools
There are two main classes of tools: hand, and power. Hand tools are ones which you control by hand, such as a screwdriver, or shovel. A power took runs on external power such as electricity, batteries, or fuel. A power tool is stronger and works with more force than a hand tool, accomplishing tasks in significantly less time. Although this increases the potential for injury exponentially, injury is still a concern with hand powered tools.
The first step in avoiding injury is to make sure your tools are properly maintained. This includes BOTH power and hand tools. Before using any tool, do a visual inspection to make sure there are no dings, dents, or other issues that might make the tool work improperly. For power tools this also includes the cords, attachments, and plug in nodes. If they took is chipped, cracked, or show significant wear and tear, use a different tool. It is also important to keep your tools cleaned and safely stored.
Guards & Switches
Two critical components of many tools are the guard, which protects the blade, and the power switch which controls whether the tool has power and will operate. Machine guards must cover any moving part of the tool. This can include belts, shafts, gears, chains, and blades. Its sole purpose is to protect you by putting a barrier between you and the tool's machinery. Guards also include PPE worn by the worker, such as goggles or a face mask. In addition to a power switch, some tools also have pressure release switch which ensures the tool will stop working if the user lets go and/or accidentally drops the tool during operation.
There are many types of power tools, each with a specific use and each with their own potential hazards. Power tools can include electric tools, abrasive grinders, pneumatic tools, liquid fuel tools, powder-actuated tools, and hydraulic tools. It is important to know how each tool operates and the safety precautions each one requires.
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