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How to stay safe while using power tools

Use your head as well as your hands

A SMALL PROJECT CAN TURN dangerous if electric power tools are used carelessly. Tools aren’t just powered by electricity; they run on compressed air, hydraulics, belts or chain drives, too. Knowing the dangers these tools are capable of is the first step in keeping you and those around you safe. 

Power tools possess a tremendous amount of energy and if you use them, you must control that power. Hazards from power tools affect not only the person using them, but also those working close by.

Seven rules for power tool safety

  1. Operate power tools within their design limitations. Always read and follow the instruction manual to ensure you are using them correctly. 
  2. Before using any tool, check the cord and the tool itself for any damage. Make sure the cord is situated so it’s not a tripping hazard. 
  3. Put on gloves, appropriate footwear and eyewear, if needed. When you’re finished using the tool, carefully disconnect it without yanking the cord, and store it in a dry place. 
  4. Do not use electric tools in damp or wet locations unless they are approved for that purpose. 
  5. Keep floors dry and clean to avoid slipping while working with or around power tools.
  6. To protect against shock and burns, make sure your electric tools are double-insulated, are powered by a low-voltage isolation transformer, or have a three-pronged cord plugged into a grounded receptacle.
  7. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter, which is a fast-acting circuit breaker, or an assured grounding program.

The shocking truth

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 atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat, and death. An electric shock also can cause people to fall off ladders or other elevated work surfaces and be injured in the fall.

The safety of consumer-members is important to electric cooperatives, but remember, it is your responsibility to practice electrical safety when using equipment that can put you in harm’s way.

TROY STOVALL is the Corporate Safety Manager at Big Rivers Electric, a generation and transmission power provider in Henderson.

YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 27 

WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Spending time with family and friends; cookouts and vacationing. I like to stay busy doing pretty much anything outdoors, especially hunting and fishing.

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