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Portable Hand and Power Tools


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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Self-Inspection Checklist

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This checklist applies to hand and portable power tools and equipment including pneumatic power tools. Fixed and portable abrasive wheels and tools, and fixed woodworking machinery are covered in other checklists.

General Requirements

  1. Are all portable hand or power tools maintained in a safe condition? [29 CFR 1926.300(a)]
  2. If compressed air is used for cleaning purposes, is it used at pressures less than 30 psi and only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment? [29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 1926.302(b)(4)]
  3. Are power tools equipped and used with guards whenever possible? [29 CFR 1926.300(b)(1)]
  4. Are all belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, drums, flywheels, chains, or other reciprocating, rotating or moving parts of equipment guarded if operator is exposed to contact or if they otherwise create a hazard? [29 CFR 1926.300(b)(2)]
  5. Is all necessary personal protective equipment provided whenever the use of hand and power tools could create falling, flying or splashing debris, or harmful dusts, fumes, mists, vapors, or gases. [29 CFR 1926.300(c)]
  6. If tools and equipment are brought in from home, are they subject to the same safety requirements as supplied tools and equipment? [29 CFR 1910.242(a)]
  7. Are all chain saws, percussion tools, and hand-held powered circular saws (with blades greater than 2 inches in diameter) equipped with a constant pressure switch that shuts off power when released? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(2)(i); and 1926.300(d)(3)]
  8. Are all hand-held powered drills; tappers; fastener drivers; horizontal, vertical and angle grinders (with wheels greater than 2 inches in diameter); disc sanders (with discs greater than 2 inches in diameter); belt sanders; reciprocating saws; saber, scroll, jig saws (with blade shanks greater than a nominalone-fourth (1/4) inch); and other similarly power tools equipped with a constant pressure switch or control? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(2)(ii) and 1926.300 (d)(1)-(3)]Note: They may be equipped with a lock-on control provided the turnoff can be accomplished by a single motion by the same finger or fingers that turns it on. The Construction standard requires a “momentary contact on-off control” instead of a constant pressure switch or control. This means that if the switch is pressed, the tool turns on and if the switched is pressed again, the tool turns off.
  9. Are all-hand held powered platen sanders, grinders (with wheels two-inch diameter or less), routers, planers, laminate trimmers, nibblers, shears, scroll saws, and jig saws (with blade shanks one-fourth (1/4) of an inch wide or less), equipped with a positive “on-off” control? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(2)(iii) and 1926.300(d)(1)]Note: A positive “on-off” control means a switch that you must push to turn the tool on and then push again to turn it off. Control switches as described in questions seven and eight may also be used.
  10. On hand-held power tools, is the operating control located so as to minimize the possibility of accidental operation? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(2)(iv)]Note: This requirement does not apply to concrete vibrators, concrete breakers, powered tampers, jackhammers, rock drills, garden appliances, household and kitchen appliances, personal care appliances, medical or dental equipment, or to fixed machinery.
  11. Are all portable power driven circular saws (with blade diameter greater than 2 inches) equipped with guards above and below the base plate or shoe? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(1)(i) and 1926.304(d)]Note: This requirement does not apply to meat cutting saws.
  12. Does the upper guard on a circular saw cover the saw to the depth of the teeth, except for the minimum arc required to permit the base to be tilted for bevel cuts? [29 CFR 1926.304(d)]
  13. Does the lower guard on a circular saw cover the saw to the depth of the teeth, except for the minimum arc required to allow proper retraction and contact with the work? [29 CFR 1926.304(d)]
  14. When a circular saw is removed from the material being sawed, does the lower guard automatically and instantly return to the covering position? [29 CFR 1926.304(d)]
  15. Are belt sanding machines provided with guards at each nip point, where the sanding belt runs onto a pulley? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(3)]
  16. If a saw cracks, is it immediately removed from service? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(4)]
  17. Are all portable, electrically powered tools properly grounded or double insulated? [29 CFR 1910.243(a)(5) and 1926.302(a)(1)] (See checklist for Electrical–Wiring Design and Protection)
  18. Are impact tools, such as drift pins, wedges, and chisels, kept free of mushroomed heads? [29 CFR 1926.301(c)]
  19. Are the wooden handles of tools kept free of splinters or cracks and are they fixed tightly in the tool? [29 CFR 1926.301(d)]
  20. Is it prohibited to lower or hoist a tool by the cord? [29 CFR 1926.302(a)(2)]
  21. Do woodworking tools meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety codes? [29 CFR 1926.304(f)]

    Pneumatic Power Tools and Hose

  22. Are pneumatic power tools secured to the hose or whip by some positive means, so as to prevent the tool from being accidentally disconnected? [29 CFR 1926.302(b)(1)]
  23. Are safety clips or retainers used on pneumatic impact (percussion) tools to prevent attachments from being accidentally expelled? [29 CFR 1910.243(b)(1) and 1926.302(b)(2)]
  24. Are all pneumatically driven nailers, staplers, and other similar equipment which have automatic fastener feeds and which operate at more than 100 psi pressure at the tool equipped with a safety device on the nozzle to prevent the tool from ejecting fasteners, unless the muzzle is in contact with the work surface? [29 CFR 1926.302(b)(3)]
  25. Are all compressed air hoses and hose connections designed for the pressure and service to which they are subjected? [29 CFR 1910.243(b)(2) and 1926.302(b)(5)]
  26. Is it prohibited to lower or hoist tools by the hose? [29 CFR 1926.302(b)(6)]
  27. Do all hoses (exceeding one-half inch inside diameter) have safety devices at the source of the supply or branch line, to reduce pressure in case of hose failure? [29 CFR 1926.302(b)(7)]
  28. Are airless spray guns [of the type which atomize paints and fluids at high pressure (1,000 pounds or more per square inch)] equipped with automatic or visible manual safety devices which prevent accidental release of paint or fluid? [29 CFR 1926.302(b)(8)]Note: In lieu of the above, a diffuser nut which will prevent high pressure, high velocity release while the nozzle tip is removed, plus a nozzle tip guard which will prevent the tip from coming in contact with the operator (or other equivalent protection) shall be provided.
  29. Are all fuel powered tools stopped while being refueled, serviced, or maintained? [29 CFR 1926.302(c)(1)]
  30. Is all fuel transported, handled, and stored in accordance with applicable regulations? [29 CFR 1926.302(c)(1)]
  31. When fuel powered tools are used in enclosed spaces, are measures taken to prevent the build-up of toxic gases? [29 CFR 1926.302(c)(2)]