Electrical Safeguarding of Power Tools

December 2, 2019

Power tools run on electricity and pose a hazard if not maintained or operated properly. Pennsylvania employers must safeguard power tools in the workplace to protect workers from electrical injuries, such as burns, shock, or electrocution. Those who are injured in power tool accidents at work may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Power Tool Hazards

Construction workers often use electrical-powered tools, such as drills, grinders, sanders, saws, and spray guns. Stationary power tools and plug-in industrial machinery under 5HP are responsible for nearly half of all machinery-related injuries each year, according to The Magazine for Environment, Health, and Safety Leaders. Small or inexpensive power tools can cause injuries that are just as serious and costly as those caused by large, industrial machines. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of the most serious hazards include:

  • Electrical burns: This type of burn may affect not only the skin, but also the internal organs.
  • Electric shock: Workers may suffer electric shock from uncontrolled hazardous energy.
  • Heart failure: If a worker suffers severe electric shock, it can cause electrocution or cardiac arrest.

In addition to these dangers, there are other, less obvious hazards presented by power tools and machinery. These hazards are present when the tool is no longer in use, such as when a tool has lost power, but its power switch remains on, or when a tool continues vibrating after being turned off. Operators, as well as other nearby employees may become injured outside the normal operation of the machine.

OSHA Safety Standards and Recommendations

Power tools can cause serious injuries if not safeguarded. OSHA sets forth standards and best practices for controlling power tool hazards in the workplace, including:

  • Double-insulated tools: To safeguard against shock hazards, workers should only operate hand-held power tools that are double-insulated.
  • Cord safety: Cords must be kept away from heat, liquids, and sharp edges. Workers should not use extension cords with exposed wires.
  • PPE and clothing: Employers must provide workers who use power tools with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job, including gloves, safety footwear, and eye protection.
  • Emergency stop system: The power switch installed in most power tools is not easy to reach in emergency situations. Employers should, therefore, implement an emergency stop system.
  • Risk assessments: Providing routine risk assessments of the workplace can help employers reduce power tool-related accidents and injuries.
  • Environmental factors: Adequate lighting, ergonomic workstations, and good housekeeping help to ensure power tool safety.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Injured in Power Tool Accidents

If you were injured in a power tool accident at work, you may need an attorney to help you with your workers’ compensation claim. Contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We can help you collect the benefits to which you are entitled, including medical benefits and compensation for lost wages. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.

Located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.

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