Module 4: Basic Tool Safety and Working Environment

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Plumbing Tools
Tools are used every day on a job site, and it is easy to forget that they can pose serious safety risks.

The types of injuries that occur with tools can vary. Some injuries are the result of workers tripping on tools, or getting an electrical shock, working with sharp edges, or fire. Others are due to carelessness or lack of training.

The following list demonstrates the types of injuries that occur as a result of hand and power tool accidents:

• Burns

• Cuts

• Sprains

• Electrical shock

• Eye injuries

• Hearing loss

• Broken bones

Hand Tools
Hand tools are non-powered tools that require a worker’s strength and force to operate. Hand tools can include anything from screwdrivers to cable strippers.

Hand tools become dangerous when they are misused or improperly maintained. Blade tools and impact tools present a great risk of injury because of the force needed to operate them.

The best way to reduce hand-tool accidents is to inspect and maintain tools regularly and always wear appropriate PPE.

Power Tools
Power tools are powered by electricity, pressurized air, or fuel. They can be hazardous when they are improperly used or poorly maintained.

Most of the risks associated with hand tools are also associated with power tools. Adding a power source to a tool increases the risk factors. For example, a radial arm saw is far more dangerous than a hand-powered saw.

Power tools are powered by different sources. Some examples of power sources for power tools include:

• Electricity

• Pneumatics (air pressure)

• Liquid fuel ( gasoline or propane)

• Hydraulics (fluid pressure)

Basic Tool Safety
It is important to know the safety rules and proper operating procedures for each tool you use.

Specific operating procedures and safety rules for using a tool are provided in the operator’s / user’s manual supplied by the manufacturer.

Always read the manual before operating any tool for the first time. If the manual is missing, contact the manufacturer for a replacement.
Also, ask the advice of a more experienced worker if you are not certain about the operation of a tool.

The following basic guidelines should be followed when it comes to using tools safely.

Do not use:

• wrenches when jaws are sprung

• impact tools (chisels and wedges) when heads have mushroomed

• tools with loose, cracked, or splintered handles

• screwdriver as a chisel

• tools with taped handles as they may be hiding cracks

With regard to bladed tools, take the following safety precautions:

• Keep blades sharp and inspect them regularly

• Always keep the blades and points aimed away from yourself
Never leave tools on top of ladders or scaffolding.

Electrically Powered Tools
The most serious danger in using electrically powered tools is electrocution.

Electricity can cause burns, shocks, explosions, electrocution and fires. Electrical shocks can be minor and uncomfortable or they can be severe, causing burns or death. Even a small amount of current can cause the heart to stop pumping in rhythm. If not corrected, this condition will result in death.

Electrical shock can also cause a loss of balance, muscle control, or consciousness, which could then cause the victim to fall or drop a tool. A fall from a ladder or scaffolding can be quite serious.

To prevent electrical shock, tools must provide at least one of the following types of protection:

• Double insulation

• Powered by a low-voltage isolation transformer

• Grounded with a three-wire cord

• Twist locks
The next slide presents some guidelines that should be followed to avoid accident and injury when electrically powered tools.

Electrically Powered Tools – Safe Use Guidelines
Click on the buttons below to know the guidelines to protect yourself and your co-workers:

Use the right tools for the job, and use them the right way.

Wear all appropriate PPE, such as gloves and safety footwear.

Store power tools in a dry place when not in use.

Never use electrically powered tools in damp or wet places.

Work only in well-lit work areas.

Consult local codes before working with electrical equipment.

Liquid-Fuel Tools
Some power tools, like torches, are powered by a liquid fuel, such as propane. Whenever a torch is used, a fire extinguisher must be nearby.

The most serious hazard with fuel-powered tools comes from fuel vapors that can burn or explode. Burning liquid fuel also gives off exhaust fumes, which can be dangerous.

The next slide presents some tips for using liquid-fuel tools safely.

Liquid-Fuel Tools Safety Tips
Here are a few tips in using liquid-fuel tools safety:

• Always wear the appropriate PPE, including eye protection, gloves, and respirators, if necessary.

• Handle, transport, and store the fuel only in approved flammable-liquid containers.

• Before refilling the tank of a liquid-fuel powered tool, shut down the engine and allow it to cool. This will reduce the risk of a hot tool igniting fuel vapors.

• If you are using a liquid-fueled tool inside a closed area, there must be adequate ventilation or respirators in use so you can avoid breathing dangerous exhaust fumes.

• When you are using a liquid-fuel powered tool, make sure fire extinguishers are available nearby.

• When using torches, a fire watch should be maintained.