Hand and power tools are a common part of our everyday lives and are present in nearly every industry. These tools help us to easily perform tasks that otherwise would be difficult or impossible. However, these simple tools can be hazardous and have the potential for causing severe injuries when used or maintained improperly. Special attention toward hand and power tool safety is necessary in order to reduce or eliminate these hazards.
Hand and power tool hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, and the construction industry.
This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to hand and power tools in the workplace.
Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.
- 1910 Subpart P, Hand and portable powered tools and other hand-held equipment
1910 Subpart R, Special industries
1910 Subpart T, Commercial diving operations [related topic page]
- 1910.422, Procedures during dive
Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)
- 1915 Subpart H, Tools and related equipment
Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)
Longshoring (29 CFR 1918)
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)
- 1926 Subpart I, Tools – hand and power
- 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart T — Commercial Diving Operations. CPL 02-00-151, (2011, June 13). Provides guidelines for the occupational safety and health standards for commercial diving operations, 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart T.
- Logging Operations, Inspection Procedures and Interpretive Guidance Including Twelve Previously Stayed Provisions. CPL 02-01-022 [CPL 2-1.22], (1996, September 27). Clarifies enforcement policies for the logging operations standard (29 CFR 1910.266), including paragraph (e) “Hand and portable power tools”.
- Logging Operations, Inspection Procedures and Interpretive Guidance. CPL 02-01-019 [CPL 2-1.19], (1995, March 17). Contains inspection and compliance information for hand and portable powered tools used in logging operations.
- Explosive Actuated Fastening Tools. STD 01-13-002 [STD 1-13.2A], (1985, December 9). Provides specific interpretation as to when magazine-fed, explosive power operated hand tools are considered “loaded”.
- Search all available directives.
- D’AX wheels are to be guarded as cutting saws. (1998, June 22).
- Use of insulated hand tools. (1996, July 30).
- Letter requesting interpretation of the OSHA electrical standards as they apply to employees using insulated hand tools. (1996, May 20).
- The Canadian Standards Association, a nationally recognized testing laboratory, marking and double insulated tools. (1995, September 1).
- Certification of manufactured products intended for use in the workplace. (1994, December 14).
- All electric tools need to be tested by a qualified national testing laboratory and be listed and labeled. (1994, January 28).
- Use of general protective equipment and tools by employees when working near exposed energized conductors or circuit parts in the workplace. (1991, December 27).
- Marking recognition, regulations and policy of double insulated power tools. (1985, November 8).
- Clarification that a safety device to automatically cut off the flow of compressed air applies only to pneumatic power tools. (1983, June 6).
- Pneumatic tools must be designed and used in accordance with good engineering practices. (1982, April 8).
- Clarification of 1910.212 and 1910.242 as applying to hand-type office paper cutters and sharp edged hand tools. (1976, September 15).
- Search all available standard interpretations.
Hazards and Solutions
Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. The following references aid in recognizing and controlling hand and power tool hazards in the workplace.
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 260 KB PDF, 56 pages.
- Hand and Power Tools. OSHA Publication 3080, (Revised 2002). Also available as a 171 KB PDF, 32 pages. Includes information on the dangers of hand and power tools and safety precautions.
- Carbon Monoxide Hazards from Small Gasoline Powered Engines. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.
- NIOSH Update: NIOSH Pursues Hand-Vibration Studies to Understand, Address Risks. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (2003, June 3). Announces that NIOSH is pursuing studies to help fill critical research gaps linking vibrating hand tools with worker injuries and point to ways for effectively reducing risks of hand-vibration disorders for employees who use jackhammers, chipping hammers, power drills, and other vibrating tools.
- NIOSH Numbered Publications: Hazard Controls . US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Published series for wood dust:
- Control of Wood Dust from Horizontal Belt Sanders. Publication No. 96-121, (1996).
- Control of Wood Dust from Shapers. Publication No. 96-122, (1996).
- Control of Wood Dust from Automated Routers. Publication No. 96-123, (1996).
- Control of Wood Dust from Large Diameter Disc Sanders. Publication No. 96-124, (1996).
- Control of Wood Dust from Random Orbital Hand Sanders. Publication No. 96-125, (1996).
- Control of Wood Dust from Orbital Hand Sanders. Publication No. 96-126, (1996).
- Control of Wood Dust from Table Saws. Publication No. 96-127, (1996).
- Hand/Power Tools. National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Links to several informative documents covering machinery safety and hand/power tools.
Related Safety and Health Topics Pages
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 588 KB PDF, 56 pages.
- Construction Industry Safety and Health Outreach Program. OSHA, (1996, May). Table of contents for OSHA construction outreach materials. One of the sections contains information on hand and power tools.
- Hand and Power Tools. Discusses that the employer is responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment used by employees but the employees have the responsibility for properly using and maintaining tools, (2006, May).
- Working Outdoors in Warm Climates [74 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2005, September).