Three of the major causes of power tool injuries are inattention through repetition, an unexpected event, and inexperience or over confidence.
Inattention Through Repetition
Inattention through repetition is most likely to occur at a busy jobsite or in a production shop. Hurrying to beat deadlines increases the risk of accidents and injuries. No matter how competent and confident the operator, he or she must not allow himself or herself to become complacent. Always pause deliberately after every few repeat operations to refocus on the task at hand and then proceed with renewed awareness.
Because most power tools operate at high speeds, when things happen, they tend to happen very quickly. A kickback situation can suddenly hurl a workpiece – or a portable tool itself – at the operator. Fingers might be drawn into the blade in some instances, or the tool may move toward fingers or other body parts that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Working with fingers too near the blade can result in a wide variety of unpleasant surprises. Giving in to distractions such as trying to catch a waste strip moving backward on a table saw after the cut can cause an operator to thoughtlessly move his or her hands into dangerous areas.
Unexpected events are more likely to end badly when operators are inexperienced, plan poorly or don’t understand how a particular tool works. For example, attempting to cut, joint, or shape small workpieces without a guard and the use of work helpers (or jigs) can end in disaster. Blades and cutters can mangle fingers when an operator attempts to machine small
pieces. Taking the time to build and use jigs and fixtures that keep the workpiece under control and hands well away from blades and cutters is essential.
Inexperience and Overconfidence
Some people with many years of experience grow accustomed to working with their hands dangerously close to blades and cutters – sometimes without protective guards in place. A sudden grab of the workpiece or a kickback condition can cause fingers or hands to be pulled into the cutter almost instantaneously. Experience, although a good teacher, can lull us into overconfidence. The foolish risks we then become willing to take can inflict very painful lessons on us and our families. Power tools serve us well. They enable us to perform difficult tasks with greater ease and accuracy than most of us could ever hope for without them. However, they demand respect. To avoid accidents, power tool operators must be knowledgeable and thoroughly prepared. Inexperienced, untrained, and unprepared operators can be injured within minutes of attempting to use a power tool.
Modern power tools are designed to operate safely when used prudently and according to all instructions in the tool’s operator’s manual. Virtually all power tool accidents are preventable. Yet, accidents happen to novices and experienced operators alike.
Power tools can be a valuable when used properly.
Gregg Hall is a business consultant for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida.
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