7 Safety Tips for Using Power and Hand Tools Every Mechanic Should Know
Hand Tools
Power Tools
Tips
Tools

7 Safety Tips for Using Power and Hand Tools Every Mechanic Should Know

Written by Jessee Bourque
September 18, 2023

Hand and power tools are pretty much everywhere these days. You can find them in both automotive repair centres and DIY home improvement projects in home garages. 

For the most part, working with these tools is safe. The companies that manufacture them pour millions of dollars into research and development to ensure that they’re effective and compliant with industry standards for safe usage.

However, accidents still happen, and not just to newbies who are unfamiliar with handling these tools either. Seasoned pros can get injured when working with tools too, especially when they get too comfortable or overly confident.

So, regardless of your level of experience working with tools, it always helps to review basic safety measures.

Let’s dive right in. 

Leading Causes of Injuries in a Garage

Safety Tips for Working with Power Tools
But first, let’s take a look at the statistics.

As per a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the cost of injuries caused by hand and power tools adds up to $15.4 million annually. We’re talking millions lost due to medical bills and lost work that could have been prevented by paying more attention to safety precautions.

Now, what are the usual causes behind these accidents? According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), these are as follows:

  • Poorly-made handles break, causing the head of the tool to fly off and hit either the person using the tool or those around them;

  • Electric shock from power tools that aren’t properly grounded;

  • Exposure to harmful dust, gas, or fumes due to insufficient protective gear.

Other factors that contribute to accidents include employees doing repetitive tasks, unexpected events while at work, and inexperience/overconfidence. 

Safety Tips: How to Prevent Accidents When Working With Hand and Power Tools 

Fortunately, the following tips should help any automotive enthusiast or mechanic (regardless of their skill level or experience) steer clear of injury while working with tools:

1. Dress for the job.

Seriously. This alone could already prevent a lot of accidents.

When working with tools, it’s best to avoid wearing stuff that could dangle or get caught up in a tool’s moving parts. (Yikes.) This includes loose-fitting clothing, jewelry (especially long necklaces), and neckties. 

Got long hair? Make sure you keep it tied up nice and tight behind your head. You don’t want it getting tangled up in a drill by accident, right?

As for footwear, sturdy, non-slip shoes are highly recommended.

And while we’re on the subject…

2. Don’t scrimp on personal protective equipment (PPE).

These are essentially your first line of protection. So, what sort of PPE is good to have on hand? 

A. Protective goggles.

Safety GogglesSafety goggles or glasses will protect your eyes from irritants like debris and dust. In some cases, you may also need to use face shields to get more extensive protection.

B. Earplugs.

Even the best power tools can be loud. Overexposure to such noise over time can lead to tinnitus and other issues with your hearing. 

Thus, it’s important to protect your ears with a good set of earplugs.

C. Gloves.

 

Gloves 

It’s never really a good idea to be working on a vehicle with your bare hands. Harsh chemicals could spill, handling sharp tools could result in cuts, etc.

The right pair of gloves can keep them safe from injury without inhibiting their dexterity and movements.  

3. Keep your work area clean and well-lit.

A cluttered and messy working area poses a major risk to your safety, so it’s important to keep things clean and tidy.

For instance, tangled cords scattered across the floor are basically an accident waiting to happen. The same goes for power tools in close proximity to flammable materials.

If you have children, it’s also best to child-proof your garage by removing all starter keys and master switches when you’re not using your tools. You may also want to use padlocks as an additional precaution.

Lastly, people tend to underestimate the importance of proper lighting. Power tools can be very dangerous, even deadly if you use them in poorly-lit conditions. If you can’t see what you’re doing, you’ll be in big trouble.

So, if your work area’s on the dim side, bring in additional light. A workspace with lots of bright, shadow-free light would be the safest option. 

4. Always inspect your tools before use. 

Look out for any cracks, exposed wires, or damaged plugs, especially when it comes to tools that you use often. Wear and tear is inevitable, and damaged tools often figure in accidents.

The same goes for brand-new tools. Periodic inspections can go a long way towards keeping you safe. 

5. Handle power tools with extra care.

While they’re more powerful than hand tools, power tools are also potentially more dangerous since they involve electricity. 

A. Always turn them off after use. 

This should be a given, but you should never leave your power tools plugged in “on standby.” Doing so could seriously injure other people who don’t realize that the tools are active.

Make sure to unplug and properly store power tools after each use. 

B. Never carry corded tools by their cords.

You could end up damaging them by accident. Keep the cords away from any sharp objects or heat sources and refrain from yanking them when unplugging the tools as well. 

C. Don’t keep your finger on the switch or trigger of a plugged-in tool.

Accidental starts are another occupational hazard that comes with working with power tools. 

So, apart from unplugging tools once you finish using them, never keep your finger on the switch or trigger when holding or carrying a plugged-in one. 

D. Be extremely careful when working in damp or wet environments.

Electric shock from grounding is one of the most common causes of accidents when working with power tools. And we all know that water and electricity are a recipe for disaster.

It’s best to avoid damp or wet working environments altogether, of course, but if you can’t avoid it, you can take certain steps to reduce the risk of electric shock. 

These include keeping your hands and feet dry and sitting on a wooden stool on top of a rubber mat while working.  

6. Educate yourself on the proper use of your tools. 

Being familiar with your tool and knowing what you’re doing is already half the battle.

A. Read the manual.

There’s a reason why your hand and power tools come with a manual, so don’t throw it away(!).

Aside from teaching you how to use your tools properly, the manual should also have additional information for improving user safety and for troubleshooting.

And when it only takes a split second of improper use to cause a life-altering injury, learning how to wield your tools properly is non-negotiable.

B. Use only the right tools for the job.

Again, proper use of tools involves using the right tools for the right purpose. This means you shouldn’t use a wrench like a hammer, as well as vice versa.

Whether you’re using hand or power tools, selecting the right one will get the job done properly and quickly and enhance your overall safety.

C.  Grip the tools firmly.

Losing control over any of your tools will result in a hazardous situation. This is why it’s important to grip them firmly and select ones that you can comfortably wield. If it’s too heavy for you to maneuver properly, you shouldn’t use it.

When it comes to power tools, you have to be in control of them at all times. Maintaining your balance while on your feet is also crucial, hence the need to wear non-slip footwear in the garage.

7. Buy quality tools from trusted suppliers.

Finally, you should only buy tools from accredited retailers. No amount of safety precautions will protect you if you keep using substandard tools or worse, cheap knock-offs that are bound to fall apart at the first opportunity.

As a bonus, buying the real thing gives you access to the manufacturer’s warranty, which you can easily invoke in case you find a defect.

At MPR Tools, we always strive to provide our customers with the finest quality of both hand and power tools, all sourced straight from their manufacturers. 

We remain committed to giving each customer the best and safest experience possible when it comes to their tools - and at the lowest price possible, thanks to our price-match guarantee

Click here to check out our wide range of hand and power tools today!

Sources: 

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/2003h054.pdf

https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/osha3080.pdf

https://hsi.com/blog/30-tips-for-hand-and-power-tool-safety

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/syc-20350156

https://www.hseblog.com/importance-of-selecting-the-right-tools-for-the-job/

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Elevate Your Toolbox.

Sign up to get the latest guides and special offers sent to your inbox.