Safe use of hand power tools

We take a quick look at good practice to ensure safe use of hand power tools in the workplace.

Two questions that regularly crop up are:

  • Must employees be given practical advice on using hand power tools if they are only occasionally used in the workplace?
  • Will it be enough to have employees read the equipment’s instruction manual?

Many employees will have used power tools at home and as they are so common I can hear some of you saying its ‘Elf & Safety gone mad to instruct employees on using electric drills or something similar.

But there can be no getting around the fact that as an employer you have a duty to train employees in the use of all work tools and not just power ones.

You can’t just assume your employees can safely use work equipment. In fact, your workers may have picked up some really bad habits using tools at home that they’ve somehow been getting away with!

As an employer you must give workers adequate information, instruction and training on safely operating and maintaining hand tools.

Simply telling them to read a manual is no good. How will you know they understand the associated risk? If something went wrong you’d also have no evidence they’d been properly trained.

You don’t have to go overboard on training though. A practical “toolbox talk” to all staff along with a record of their attendance and understanding will be enough.

Aside from giving basic tips on safe use you could show how to check the equipment is working properly before using it. The tool’s risk assessment should inform the content of your talk and may also flag up the need for extra controls such as personal protective equipment.

It’s also probably worth including a crib sheet of the training’s main points wherever your tools are stored to remind employees before use.

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