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Safe use of hand-held power tools

July 05, 2020

Hand-held power tools are the most common tools used in construction work but incorrect use can cause serious injury and in some cases death. For example, workers have died as a result of a femoral artery being accidentally severed while operating a hand held circular saw.

While the design of hand-held power tools will help protect workers to some extent from injuries arising out contact with moving parts and electric shock, employers are responsible for identifying all hazards associated with a task, including those arising from the use of hand-held power tools, assessing the risks, and implementing suitable controls to eliminate or reduce those risks.

Other hazards to be mindful of include: hazardous dusts; entanglement of hair, clothing or jewelry; noise; falling from height; falling objects; electric shock from use of extension leads; musculoskeletal disorders and more.

How to prevent injury

There are a number of ways to reduce the possibility of injury from the use of hand-held power tools. These include:

  • Use the right tool for the job – using incorrect tools or using them in a way other than they were designed for will usually pose dangers that workers may not be aware of.
  • Read the manual to learn how to operate the tool safely – use the manufacturer’s information to train workers on how to use the tool safely. Make sure safe operating instructions are understood for every tool to be used, including battery operated tools.
  • Never remove or bypass safety guards – tools often incorporate guards to help prevent injury from moving parts or ejected materials. Many injuries occur when workers bypass safety mechanisms or use the tools outside of their intended purpose.
  • Maintain equipment – regularly inspect tools for damage or missing parts to ensure they are in good working order and safe to use. Listen for any changes to noise from the motor and moving parts. If a tool isn’t operating correctly, tag it as ‘out of service’ and repair or replace it.
  • Wear personal protective equipment – make sure that workers wear the relevant PPE recommended by the manufacturer, such as safety glasses, respiratory protection, hearing protection.

Further Information

Your local State or Territory workplace health and safety authority may have specific requirements in relation to the use of hand-held power tools in their website:

For further advice HIA members can contact HIA’s Building Services team on 1300 650 620 or email hia_technical@hia.com.au

Need assistance with your safety?

HIA Safety has a team of qualified consultants that understand the construction industry. Our specialist team provides consultancy and innovative solutions to meet the needs of all our clients. This ensures that you have the correct systems and processes in place to best protect your staff, other contractors, clients and your business.

Call us on 1300 650 620 or visit to see HIA Safety how we can help your business meet the relevant workplace health and safety requirements.