Harper College

Hand and Power Tool Safety

Spring is here! Time to go outside and enjoy the nicer weather. Many people start cleaning up their yards after the winter months. Make sure to stay safe when working outside, especially when using hand or power tools. Here are some tips to stay safe!


Under the United States Department of Labor is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA.  Their mission is, “to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is defined by OSHA as, “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.” PPE can include items like “gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.” Make sure you pick the right tool for the job and wear the correct personal protective equipment when needed. 

  • Check out this booklet for a summary of “basic safety procedures and safeguards associated with hand and portable power tools.” Hand and Power Tools (osha.gov)
  • Remember five basic safety rules:
    • Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance
    • Use the right tool for the job
    • Examine each tool for damage before use, and do not use damaged tools
    • Operate tools according to the manufacturer’s instructions
    • Provide and use properly the right personal protective equipment
  • Precautions when using power tools;
    • 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
  • To learn more about Hand and Power Tools - Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)

Ladder Safety

“The American Ladder Institute (ALI) is a not-for-profit association dedicated to promoting safe ladder use.”  Gravity is not our friend, when we are using a ladder. It is important to use ladders correctly when working inside or outside.

“Ladders are tools.  Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladder:

  • If you feel tired or dizzy, or are prone to losing your balance, stay off the ladder.
  • Do not use ladders in high winds or storms.
  • Wear clean slip-resistant shoes.
  • Before using a ladder, inspect it to confirm it is in good working condition. 
  • The ladder you select must be the right size for the job.
  • Read the safety information labels on the ladder.”

To learn more about Basic Ladder Safety check out their website - Basic Ladder Safety - American Ladder Institute

Small Engine Safety

It is also important to be cautious of Carbon Monoxide - Carbon Monoxide Facts - Grainger KnowHow -“Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is slightly lighter than air”… and “is produced by the incomplete combustion of any fuel that contains carbon. This includes gasoline, natural gas, oil and propane, as well as coal and wood products.”

Carbon Monoxide Hazards from Small Gasoline Engines | NIOSH | CDC

“Gasoline powered tools such as high-pressure washers, concrete cutting saws (walk-behind/hand-held), power trowels, floor buffers, welders, pumps, compressors, and generators in building or semi-enclosed spaces” have the potential to be poisoned by carbon monoxide (CO). 

Small-Engine Machine Safety for Trainers and Supervisors | Ohioline (osu.edu)  Check out Ohio State University’s information on - Small Engine Safety – General Safety Tips – Push Mower Safety – Weed Trimmer Safety – Leaf Blower Safety

Additional Resources

Consumer Product Safety Commission - CPSC.gov “is charged with protecting the public form unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction.” Use this website to find more information about recalled tools or check out their website to learn more about Safety Education - Safety Education | CPSC.gov which includes information on Home & Indoors / Sports, Fitness and Recreation /Outdoors / Toys and Crafts

Last Updated: 3/19/24