Power tools are a common presence in American homes and workplaces. Millions of people have power tools at home, ranging from the most basic, such as drills or power screwdrivers, all the way up to fully equipped home woodshops or metal shops. Cordless or corded, power tools are everywhere, and this is particularly true in many American workplaces. Many occupations, including most manufacturing jobs, construction, and trades, including electrical work and plumbing, rely heavily upon power tools. They make completing many jobs safer, faster, and more efficient. Think about trying to build a house without even so much as a power saw. Putting so much power in such a small package – many power tools are hand-held – is, unfortunately, often a dangerous proposition, even for professional users. Not surprisingly, then, workplace accidents involving power tools are fairly common events.
Injuries From Power Tool Accidents Can be Serious
Many people use power tools at home, completely unrelated to on-the-job use of power tools. Such at-home use, rightly or wrongly, can give employees a false sense of knowledge and security regarding use of power tools on the job. The problem, of course, is that the types and power of tools used on the job far exceed what most home power tool users have experienced. When employees believe they know “enough” about operating power tools, particularly hand-held power tools, they may be able to avoid training or pay little attention during training.
If you have been driving for years, you might not pay much attention to a training and safety video or presentation on how to drive. Even those employees experienced with power tools likely are not experienced with all the kinds of tools they might use at work, though. No surprise, then, that hand-held power tools are implicated in serious workplace accidents, resulting in such workplace injuries as cuts, amputations, and even being impaled, such as with a nail gun. Power tools are critical for performing many jobs. The power and potential for destruction contained within those tools necessitates proper training to help avoid accidents.
Federal statistics illustrate this clearly, indicating that use of power tools are responsible for roughly 400,000 ER visits each year. The tools playing a role in the injuries leading to these visits are among the most commonly used power tools in homes and the workplace, including:
- Power drills, which put almost 6,000 people in emergency rooms every year
- Table saws, involved in about 29,000 injuries annually
- Chain saws, which are responsible for 36,000 injuries each year
- Circular and rotary saws, involved in accidents leading to nearly 11,000 injuries each year
- Accidents involving riding mowers and lawn tractors, which are vital for landscaping firms, send 37,000 people to the ER each year
- Snowblowers, another staple for landscaping firms as well as many local governments and businesses, cause nearly 6,000 injuries every year
- Nail guns and power nailers, which account for about 37,000 injuries every year
While employees might not always recognize the risks involved with power tools, employers need to implement proper safety training and policies to make those risks, and how to avoid them, clear to employees. Power tool makers and many government resources offer assistance for employers to develop and implement the necessary safety training and policies. Failing to provide proper training could be negligent.