Feel free to copy and paste the information below to edit for your company's use. If you have any questions, please use the Ask a Safety Consultant feature here.


[COMPANY NAME] has developed this policy to ensure the safety of employees working with hand and portable power tools and other hand-held equipment. This policy applies to all employees who use hand and portable power tools and equipment, including but not limited to hand, electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic tool safety. 


Safety management and supervisors are responsible for:

    • Ensuring tools are assigned for correct tasks and are maintained and stored safely
    • Providing equipment repair and training
    • Ensuring all tools and equipment used are free from defects
    • Verifying employee compliance

Employees are responsible for:

    • Training program attendance
    • Inspecting tools and equipment for defects or possible hazards prior to use
    • Tagging defective tools as out of service

Training and Recordkeeping

Employees shall be trained in the following:

    • Tool hazard recognition and safety precautions
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements
    • Appropriate use of tools
    • Annual refresher training

General Safety Requirements

Tools and equipment will be maintained in safe condition. To prevent hand and power tool hazards, the following guidelines will be followed:

    • Tool maintenance and inspection - damaged tools will be taken out of service
    • Proper tool selection for appropriate jobs
    • Follow manufacturer instructions when using tools
    • Wear appropriate PPE


The exposed moving parts of power tools shall be guarded. Safety guards must never be removed when a tool is being used. Belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, drums, flywheels, chains, or other reciprocating, rotating, or moving parts of equipment must be guarded. Machine guards must be in place at the point of operation, in running nip points, over rotating parts, and over flying chips and sparks.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE alone shall not be relied on to provide protection against hazards, but shall be used in conjunction with guards, engineering controls, administrative controls, and manufacturing practices. Depending upon the tool, use and materials involved, proper PPE should be assessed. Consider the following: for eye protection, safety glasses or goggles. A face shield may also be appropriate, but always wear eye protection whenever using a face shield. Ear plugs or ear muffs if sufficient noise is produced. A respirator may be warranted if hazardous dust is produced. If there is a potential for materials to strike the feet when being manipulated, then protective footwear such as steel-toed or composite-toed boots/shoes may be needed.

Non-Powered Hand Tools

Non-powered hand tools can include anything from axes to wrenches. The greatest hazards posed by hand tools result from misuse and improper maintenance. To prevent injury, follow the guidelines listed below:

  • Hand tools shall be used for their intended purposes
  • Inspect tools for damage, take damaged tools out of service and replace
  • Always direct tools such as knives, saw blades, etc. away from employees and aisles
  • Keep knives and scissors sharp
  • Cracked saw blades must be removed from service
  • Wrenches must not be used when jaws are sprung to the point that slippage occurs
  • Use spark-resistant tools around flammable gases, highly volatile liquids, and other explosive substances are stored or used

Power Tools

Portable power tools can be hazardous when improperly used. There are several types of portable power tools, based on the power source they use: electric, pneumatic, liquid fuel, hydraulic, and powder-actuated. To prevent hazards associated with the use of power tools, workers should observe the following general precautions:

  • Read the owner's manual to understand the tool's proper applications, limitations, operation, and hazards
  • 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
  • Ensure tools are properly grounded and use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets for corded tools
  • Disconnect tools when not using them, before servicing and cleaning, and when changing accessories such as blades, bits, and cutters
  • Keep all people not involved with the work at a safe distance from the work area
  • Secure work with clamps or a vise, freeing both hands to operate the tool
  • Avoid accidental starting - do not hold fingers on the switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool
  • Maintain tools sharp and clean
  • Be sure to keep good footing and maintain good balance when operating power tools
  • Wear proper apparel for the task - loose clothing, ties, or jewelry can become caught in moving parts
  • Inspect tools for damage before each use - remove all damaged portable electric tools from use and tag them: “Do Not Use”.

Electric Tools

The main hazard of electrical tools is electrocution. To protect from electrocution, burns, and shock, tools must either have a three-wire cord or be double insulated. Three-wire cords contain two current carrying conductors and a grounding conductor. When an adapter is used to accommodate a two-hole receptacle, the adapter wire must be attached to a known ground. The third prong must never be removed from the plug. Double insulation is more convenient. The user and the tools are protected by normal insulation on the wires inside and by a housing that cannot conduct electricity to the user in event of a malfunction.  

The following general practices should be followed when using electric tools:

  • Electric tools should be operated within their design limitations
  • When not in use, tools should be stored in a dry place
  • Electric tools should not be used in damp or wet locations
  • Work areas should be well lighted

Pneumatic Tools

Pneumatic tools are powered by compressed air. They include chippers, drills, hammers, and sanders. Employees are exposed to several hazards when using pneumatic tools, including noise, vibration, fatigue, and strains. There are several dangers encountered in the use of pneumatic tools, which are described below:

  • Being struck by one of the tool's attachments or from material being manipulated requires eye protection.
  • Pneumatic tools must be checked to see that the tools are fastened securely to the hose that prevents them from becoming disconnected. A short wire or positive locking device attaching the air hose to the tool will serve as an added safeguard.
  • If there's an air hose more than one-half inch in diameter, a safety excess flow valve must be installed at the source of the air supply to shut off the air automatically in case the hose breaks.
  • A safety clip or retainer must be installed to prevent attachments, such as chisels on a chipping hammer from being unintentionally shot from the barrel.
  • The air-line hose used must be designated to withstand the pressure being applied.
  • Airless spray guns which atomize paints and fluids at pressure must be equipped with automatic or visible manual safety devices that will prevent pulling the trigger until the safety device is manually released.
  • Screens must be set up to protect others from being struck by flying fragments around chippers, riveting guns, staplers, and air drills.
  • Compressed air guns should never be pointed toward anyone. The user shall never “dead-end” it against themselves or anyone else.

Liquid Fuel Powered Tools

Some tools are fuel powered and are dangerous because of the potential for burns, explosions, and fires. Serious hazards associated with fuel powered tools come from fuel vapors that can burn or explode and exhaust emissions that can create a hazardous atmosphere. 

Fuel must be stored and transported in approved flammable liquid containers, according to proper procedures for flammable liquids. Before refilling a fuel-powered tool tank, turn off the engine and allow it to cool to prevent accidental ignition of vapors. Effectively ventilate an enclosed area or don the appropriate PPE to avoid inhalation of carbon monoxide. Ensure access to fire extinguishers.

Hydraulic Power Tools

The fluid used in hydraulic power tools shall be an approved fire-resistant fluid and shall retain its operating characteristics at the most extreme temperatures to which it will be exposed. The manufacturer’s recommended safe operating pressure for hoses, valves, pipes, filters, and other fittings must not be exceeded. Hydraulic tools, such as jacks, operate under pressure and can cause injury if a hose bursts or develops a pinhole leak. All jacks—including lever and ratchet jacks, screw jacks, and hydraulic jacks—must have a stop indicator and the stop limit must not be exceeded.

Also, the manufacturer’s load limit must be permanently marked in a prominent place on the jack, and the load limit must not be exceeded. Manufacturer recommended hoses designed to withstand the pressure being applied shall be used. Armored hoses shall be used where physical damage to the hose may occur. 

Operating Controls and Switches

The following portable power tools must be equipped with a momentary contact “on-off” control switch that shuts off the power when pressure is released: drills, tappers, fastener drivers, horizontal, vertical, and angle grinders with wheels more than 2 inches in diameter, disc sanders, belt sanders, belt sanders, reciprocating saws, saber saws, scroll saws, and other similar tools. These tools also may be equipped with a “lock-on” control, which is controlled in a single motion using the same finger or fingers.

Other portable power tools must be equipped with a positive “on-off” control switch, a constant pressure switch, or a “lock-on” control: platen sanders, disc sanders with discs 2 inches or less in diameter, grinders with wheels 2 inches or less in diameter, routers, planers, laminate trimmers, nibblers, shears, and scroll saws, jigsaws, saber, and scroll saws with blade shanks a quarter-inch in diameter.

Other portable power tools, such as circular saws having a blade diameter greater than 2 inches, chain saws, and percussion tools without positive accessory holding means, shall be equipped with a constant pressure switch that will shut off the power.

Powder-Actuated Tools

Powder-actuated tools operate like loaded guns. Handle powder-actuated tools with the same respect and safety precautions as guns.

The following safety precautions shall be used to ensure the powdered actuated tool is used safely:

  • Use the tool at right angles to the work surface.
  • Before using, check chamber to see that the barrel is clean and free from any obstructions.
  • Do not use the tool where flammable or explosive vapors, dust, or similar substances are present.
  • Do not place your hand over the front end of the loaded tool.
  • Use only the projectiles recommended by the tool manufacturer.
  • Ensure that the base material has no holes or openings.
  • Do not load a tool until immediately before use.
  • Do not force a projectile into a working surface that is harder than the projectile being used. 
  • Use only cartridges recommended by the tool manufacturer.
  • Check that the color of the cartridge is appropriate for work being done.
  • Provide adequate ventilation in confined spaces where powder-actuated tools are used.
  • Use caution when using tools near live electrical circuits.
  • Keep cartridges locked up when not in use.
  • Do not attempt to force a cartridge into a tool and do not discard unfired cartridges carelessly.
  • Do not carry cartridges loose or in a pocket. Carry them in the manufacturer’s package.