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Working with hand tools

Power tools present hazards of physical contact, electrocution, noise, vibration, and eye injuries from flying objects.

Managing hazards

Tools used outdoors must either be double insulated, or have a good earth connection to the casing. They may only be used with a residual current device (RCD), isolating transformer, or similar form of protection against electrocution. All portable hand tools must be tested for electrical safety on a 3 monthly basis, as well as following hire of such equipment or following periods of intense wear and tear such as a week long field trip.

Power tools must be checked routinely, or following any accident or damage, to ensure they are in good working order, undamaged and that the cable and plug are correctly connected and in good condition. A dated inspection label must be securely attached to the tool. Inspections may only be performed by persons holding Electrical Practising Licences.

  • If excessive vibration or 'tingling' is noticed when using the tool, disconnect it immediately and have the tool checked. Ensure all guards are in place and are functional before use. Always keep the power cable well clear of the working parts if there is any possibility of penetrating the insulation.
  • Never apply power tools to objects that are not secured.
  • Switch on and off at the tool, not at the wall socket.
  • Turn off the power supply before touching or inspecting the tools moving parts, or fitting blades, bits or other accessories.
  • Pneumatic tools should be fitted with an oil mist filter.
  • Ensure blades, drill bits and other accessories are securely affixed, and keys or other unnecessary items removed, prior to operation.

Emergency procedures

In cases of electrocution, do not approach the victim or nearby conducting material until the power source has been isolated.