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What general safety principles should you follow when using powder-actuated tools?

  • Allow only trained, competent and authorized persons who are familiar with the regulations governing the use of the tool to operate powder-actuated tools (also known as explosive actuated fastening tools ).
  • Powder-actuated tools operate like loaded guns. Handle powder-actuated tools with the same respect and safety precautions as guns.
  • Use the CSA series Z166-M85 "Safety Code for Powder-Actuated Tools" as a guide for safe operation and maintenance of the tool.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles) and a hard hat.
  • Wear hearing protection.
  • Brace yourself at all times when working on ladders or scaffolds to maintain good balance.
  • Keep tools pointed in a safe direction. Never point powder-actuated tools at anyone.
  • Load powder-actuated tools just before use. Do not carry loaded tools from job to job.
  • Do not leave loaded powder-actuated tools unattended.
  • Do not allow bystanders near the work. Shields for protecting workers against a possible ricochet may be necessary in the working area.

How should you care and service a powder-actuated tool?

  • Clean and maintain tools according to the manufacturers' instructions.
  • Check tools before use to ensure that they are in good working order.
  • Tag defective tools "Out of service" and remove from service until properly repaired.
  • Store tools and cartridges in a locked container when they are not in use. Ensure that the tool is unloaded before storing it.

How should you use a powder-actuated tool safely?

  • Use the tool at right angles to the work surface.
  • Check the chamber to see that the barrel is clean and free from any obstruction, before using the tool.
  • Do not use the tool where flammable or explosive vapours, dust or similar substances are present.
  • Do not place your hand over the front (muzzle) end of a loaded tool.

How should you use the projectiles (fasteners, nails, studs, etc.) safely?

  • Use only the projectiles (fasteners, nails, studs, etc.) recommended by the tool manufacturer.
  • Ensure that the base material has no holes or openings and is of sufficient consistency to prevent a projectile from passing right through.
  • Do not load a tool until immediately before use.
  • Do not force a projectile into a working surface that is harder than the projectile being used. If the base material is unknown, use a hand hammer to drive the projectile, using it as a centre punch.

How should you use charge cartridges safely?

  • Use only cartridges recommended by the tool manufacturer.
  • Check that the colour of the cartridge is appropriate for work being done. Charge cartridges are colour-coded to show their strength.
  • Conduct a first trial by using the weakest or lowest strength charge cartridge.
  • Provide adequate ventilation in confined spaces where powder-actuated tools are used.
  • Hold the tool in the fixing position for no less than 5 to 15 seconds when a tool misfires. Keep the tool pointed in a direction that will not cause injury to you or others and unload a cartridge with extreme caution.
  • Use caution when using tools near live electrical circuits. Make sure that the nails (etc.) do not enter live circuits buried or hidden in the base material.
  • Keep cartridges in a lock up when not in use.
  • Do not attempt to force a cartridge into a tool.
  • Do not discard unfired cartridges carelessly.
  • Do not carry cartridges loose or in a pocket. Carry them in the manufacturer's package.
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Document last updated on December 20, 2013

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