Occupational Safety Health Adminstration (OSHA), industry associations that
have training programs, and manufacturers always address the topic of tool
safety in their training classes. Regardless of all the safety precaution
information that is constantly reinforced, there are those that have a
different way of adapting tool safety. (Photo 1) The compound miter saw safety
shield that keeps falling down because the spring or mechanism is broken. The
easy solution: wire or strap it up somehow.
comes the safety switch on the handle that needs to be depressed before the saw
activates. Photo 2 shows electrical tape wrapped around the handle to keep the
switch in place so that the saw will activate.
3 shows table saws, with a missing shield; I know, the safety shield is really
a pain! If the shields are not perfectly aligned, they tend to make it harder
to push lumber through for a clean cut. By law, the blade shield is mandatory
on any tool that has a cutting blade, and must be in place and in good working
order. Use a push bar or push shoe to push the wood past the saw blade of the
table saw. You only have ten fingers and we probably all know someone who has
lost a finger or two from a saw; we don’t want any of you to be one of the
on tools are another area that installers have concerns with. (Photo 4)
After-market plugs, unless installed by a licensed electrician with a document
stating such, are not accepted by OSHA. The end plugs must be a molded plug.
on the subject of cords, we can’t forget about the ground plug, you know, the
one that gets removed if the wall outlet happens to be an older one that does
not have the receptacle for the ground plug. The wrong solution: remove the
ground plug. You can’t forget when the ground plug just breaks off in the wall
outlet either. (Photo 6)
plug looks like it had a bit of a short from the way it is displaying some
burnt and melted rubber around the post; hmmm, could the missing ground plug
have had anything to do with it? (Photo 7) A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
(GFCI) is required at all wall outlets to protect breakers and electrical
systems from tripping at the breaker box. The installer is to plug all tools
into a GFCI.
box safety? Yes! Loose blades and broken latches; installers can be cited for
OSHA safety violations (Photo 8).
so you have a tool that is properly grounded, and meets all the safety requirements;
do you know how to use it properly? Let’s take a router for instance, do you
know which direction to move the router? If you are routing an outside straight
line, the direction you want to move the router is a counter-clockwise
direction, against the bit’s rotation (Photo 9).
If you are routing an inside edge, move the
router in a clock-wise direction. (Photo 10) The reason for the direction on
the outside edge and inside edge is to keep the router next to the wood edge,
preventing the router from pulling out of control. Improper feed direction is
dangerous and can lead to injury.
saws are another tool that if not maintained and used properly can also cause
serious injury. Make sure that the blade shield is working properly. A common
occurrence with circular saws is the cord getting cut by the saw. When this
occurs, don’t use electrician’s tape to repair the cord; take it to a qualified
tool repair shop and have a new cord attached. If you want a longer cord, as
the ones on the circular saws are pretty short, most of the repair shops that I
know of will install a longer cord for you.
using the circular saw, stay to the side of the saw whenever possible, this
will eliminate the saw kicking back and possibly cutting your leg. If you have
no choice but to use the saw from behind, keep your elbow situated so that if the saw kicks back, your
elbow will hit your leg or hip and prevent the saw from kicking back and
causing injury. A few ways a saw kicks back are: if the installer tries to back
up with the saw, tries to straighten the
saw if it veers a bit off a straight line, or from the wood pinching or getting
in a bind with the blade. Don’t cut between supports, such as saw
horses, as this will put a bind on the wood and the saw blade. Make sure the
wood you are cutting is well supported and will not move around. You may need
to clamp a straight edge to the piece you will be cutting, or clamp a straight
piece of wood next to the wood you will be cutting to minimize movement. And
always remember to wear safety glasses whenever cutting, not on the top of your
head but on your face where they are supposed to be worn!
installer should keep a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit in their work
vehicle; you always want to be prepared for an emergency. Keeping your tools
organized does a couple of things. It shows that you care about your tools and
also displays professionalism. Photo 12 shows what your tools or work truck
should not look like. Photo 13 is displaying the tools of Doug Garden and Brad
Dusterhoft at a recent hardwood training/certification, held at Installation
Services in Sterling Heights,
Michigan. Tools were organized,
well maintained and professional in appearance. Which of these represents you
as an installer?
I want to hear from you. Tell me how we can improve.