Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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Health and Safety: Teaching Tools

Tools and Machines


Tool safety is very important. Do not use any tool or equipment unless you have had "hands-on" training to use it properly. Each tool and piece of equipment is different. Every time you have to use a new tool or machine, request for training.

Tools and equipment have several safety features such as:

Guards to prevent unintentional contact with moving parts equipment with blades, rotary equipment boxes and belts, high voltage electrical components, heated parts and dangerous materials.

Safety Features

Interlock switches to shut off the machine if the guard is not in place, if hands or clothes are caught in a moving part or if the equipment overheats. An example is that you cannot operate a clothes dryer unless the door is closed.

Warning lights, buzzers and bells to warn that it is not safe to operate the tool or equipment. Report the fault to your teacher or supervisor and do not use the equipment unless it is fixed.

***NEVER operate equipment if the guards are missing***

General Safety Precautions

General Safety Precautions

READ the user's manual.
GET hands-on training before using any new equipment.
STORE the tools in their designated areas after use.
USE the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
FAMILIARIZE yourself with emergency procedures.
FOLLOW electrical safety rules.

General Safety Precautions

MAKE sure that machine guards are in place and in good working order before you use the machine.
FOLLOW lockout procedures if you have to do maintenance or repair work on a tool or piece of equipment (see electrical notes for more on lockout).
TIE long hair behind your head.
do not
DO NOT WEAR loose clothing like ties, open cuffs, or loose or open shirts.
DO NOT WEAR loose jewellery like neck chains, bracelets, rings and watches.

Machine Guarding

Machine Guarding

Machine guards prevent exposure to moving, rotating, electrically charged or hot parts, in-running nip hazards, as well as hazardous materials. Missing or improperly used guards can cause severe cuts, amputation or even death.

Machine guards or barriers are devices fitted on the machinery and equipment to provide protection against:

  • direct contact with moving parts,
  • mechanical failure,
  • electrical failure, and
  • human error.

Machine Guarding

Examples of machine guards include wire cages around fans, blade guards on table and band saws, and covers on drive belts and electrical switch boxes. Machine guards are in place to protect you. A guard is a permanent fixture and should not be tampered with. Machine guards must be used, maintained and repaired only by a qualified person.


In some equipment there is a built-in interlock switch that does not allow the machine to be activated unless the machine guard is in place. Never disable the interlock switch.

Never assume that you know a machine well enough that it can't hurt you. Do not operate any equipment without a machine guard in place. Your hands, clothes or tools can access any of the moving parts, hot spots or high voltage conductors, if the guard is missing. If you think a guard is missing, do not operate the tool. Report the situation to your teacher or supervisor.

Basic Tips for Using Hand Tools

USE the right tool for the job. Substitutes increase the chance of having an accident.
USE tools designed to allow the wrist to stay straight. Avoid using hand tools with your wrist bent.
MAKE sure that employees are properly trained in the use of hand tools.
USE good quality tools.
KEEP tools in good condition. For example: replace cracked, splintered, or broken handles on files, hammers, screwdrivers, or sledges.

Hand Tools

INSPECT tools for defects before use. Replace or repair defective tools.
KEEP cutting tools sharp. Cover the edges with suitable covering to protect the tool and prevent injuries from unintended contact.
ENSURE that the handles of tools like hammers and axes fit tightly to the head of the tool.
REPLACE worn jaws on wrenches, pipe tools and pliers.
REDRESS burred or mushroomed heads of striking tools.
WHEN using a wrench or pliers, always pull on the tool. Never push unless you hold the tool with your palm open.
POINT sharp tools laying on benches away from aisles, and handles should never extend over the edge of the bench top.
MAINTAIN tools clean and dry, and store them properly after use.

Hand Tools

CARRY tools in a sturdy box to and from the worksite.
WEAR safety glasses or goggles and well-fitting gloves appropriate for the hazards. Do not wear gloves when working with or near moving machinery.
KEEP work environment clean and tidy to avoid clutter. Clutter may cause accidents.
USE a heavy belt or apron and hang tools at your sides.

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