Power tools are a huge benefit on any construction site, allowing workers to complete tasks far faster and easier than hand tools ever could — but they’re also the source of a lot of injuries and fatalities.
Many accidents with power tools can be traced back to one of three causes:
Inexperience with a particular power tool leads to accidents because the inexperienced worker doesn’t know how to anticipate the most common problems. For example, the kickback on a nail gun can be strong enough to cause someone who doesn’t expect it to break his or her own nose or teeth while nailing something vertically.
Anyone who hasn’t used a particular power tool before should be given careful instructions and supervised for a while — these are not “learn as you go” tools!
It can be surprisingly easy to lose focus on what you are doing if your actions are repetitive — even when handling something as dangerous as a drill, rotary saw or some other power tool. Operators can get lost in their own thoughts, more focused on the number of tasks that need to be done instead of the task at hand or just bored from the routine.
To fight lapses in attention, workers should be encouraged to take hourly breaks to stretch, have a drink of water or otherwise step away from the task for a few moments before continuing. If possible, repetitive tasks should be rotated among capable employees to minimize boredom. Employees should be encouraged to stay focused and keep conversation to a minimum.
Seasoned workers should know better than to take risks with power tools — but their familiarity and expertise may lead them to be less careful, not more. For example, an overconfident worker may skip the protective goggles when he or she picks up a rotary saw because he or she no longer sees the tool as particularly dangerous. Complacency is a serious dangerous for the experienced worker.
Supervisors and foremen should stress a culture of safety on the job site to prevent these kinds of problems. Employees should always be required to take the appropriate safety measures every time they handle a power tool.
For more information on how our firm can help you if you’ve been injured in a construction accident with a power tool, please visit our page.