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Tips for Power Tool Safety

Warm weather is right around the corner, so now’s the time to spruce up the yard and fix the damage from the winter months. But before you rev up those power tools, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these safety precautions regarding your outdoor electronics.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is one of the most trusted sites in resources when it comes to electrical safety. OSHA may be geared toward occupational hazards, but many of its tips work as well in the home as at work. Check out these power tool safety rules of thumb…so you can keep BOTH of your thumbs. *

  • Never carry a tool by the cord or hose.
  • Never yank the cord or the hose to disconnect it from the receptacle.
  • Keep cords and hoses away from heat, oil, and sharp edges.
  • Disconnect tools when not using them, before servicing and cleaning them, and when changing accessories such as blades, bits, and cutters.
  • Keep all people not involved with the project at a safe distance from the work area.
  • Secure work with clamps or a vise, freeing both hands to operate the tool.
  • Avoid accidental starting. Do not hold fingers on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool.
  • Maintain tools with care; keep them sharp and clean for best performance.
  • Follow instructions in the user's manual for lubricating and changing accessories.
  • Be sure to keep good footing and maintain good balance when operating power tools.
  • Wear proper apparel for the task. Loose clothing, ties, or jewelry can become caught in moving parts.
  • Remove all damaged portable electric tools from use and tag them: "Do Not Use."

For a more detailed list of precautions, check out OSHA’s Hand and Power Tools guide or visit OSHA.gov.

One of Mister Sparky’s favorite resources, Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), also offers its own tips to staying safe while using power tools. *

  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) with every power tool to protect against electric shocks.
  • Do not use power tools with an extension cord that exceeds 100 feet in length.
  • Never use power tools near live electrical wires or water pipes.
  • Use extreme caution when cutting or drilling into walls where electrical wires or water pipes could be accidentally touched or penetrated.
  • If a power tool trips a safety device while in use, take the tool to a manufacturer-authorized repair center for service.
  • When working with electricity, use tools with insulated grips.
  • Appropriate personal protective gear should be worn when using power tools.
  • Do not use power tools without the proper guards.
  • When using a wet-dry vacuum cleaner or a pressure washer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electric shock.

Always practice proper safety measures when using power tools. And if a job seems too big or too complicated – or if you have any questions – it is best to contact the experts and call Mister Sparky!

*Featured in OSHA’s guide on Hand and Power Tools.

*Featured in ESFI’s Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Electrical Safety Guide.