Hand-held and power tools are the cause of eight percent of accidents involving their misuse or failure. These tools are widely used in virtually every industry. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses hand and power tools in standards for general industry as well as shipyard equipment, marine terminals and the construction business.

As an employer or worker, you can refer to OSHA Standard # 1910.23, which is entitled “Guarding of Portable Powered Tools.” Here are some highlights of areas covered within the standard:


  • Portable power-driven circular saws with blades any larger than two inches in diameter must have guards above and below their base plates or shoes. These guards must cover the saw to the depth of the teeth, except for the minimum arc required to permit the saw base to be tilted for bevel cuts.
  • Any such saws without positive accessory holding means must be equipped with a constant pressure switch or control that will automatically shut power off when pressure is released.

Portable Belt Sanding Machines

  • Guards are required at each nip point where the belt runs onto a pulley. These guards must prevent hands or fingers from coming into contact with nip points.
  • Any unused run of sanding belt must be guarded against accidental contact.

Pneumatic Power Tools and Hoses

  • A tool retainer must be installed on each piece of utilization equipment which otherwise might eject the tool.
  • Hose and connections for conducting compressed air to utilization equipment must be designed for the pressure and service to which they are subjected.

Abrasive Wheels

  • Portable abrasive wheels may be used only on machines with safety guards. There are a few exceptions, such as mounted wheels used in portable operations of two inch or smaller diameters.
  • Safety guards must cover the spindle end of wheels as well as nut and flange projections. Cup wheels also must be protected by guards which mount behind the wheel and turn with it. These guards must be made of steel or a similar strength material.

Portable Grinders

  • Guards on a right angle head and vertical portable grinders must have a maximum exposure angle of 180 degrees. They must be located between the operator and the wheel.
  • The maximum angular exposure of the grinding wheel periphery and sides for safety guards on portable machines cannot exceed 180 degrees. The top half of the wheel must be exposed at all times.

High-Velocity Tools

  • The muzzle end of tools must have a protective shield or guard of at least 3 ½ inches in diameter, mounted perpendicular to and concentric with the barrel. This must be designed to confine any flying fragments or particles.
  • Firing mechanisms must be designed so that the tool cannot fire during loading or preparation or if the tool is dropped while loaded.
  • Firing must be dependent on at least two distinct operations with the final movement separate from the operation of bringing the tool into firing position.

Lawn Mowers

  • Machine guard requirements must be followed.
  • Chains, belts and gears must be safety positioned and guarded.
  • Appropriate shut-off devices must be provided.
  • OSHA outlines specific requirements for walk-behind, riding and other power motors.

Never let your guard down when it comes to OSHA compliance and most importantly, preserving the health and safety of your employees. To learn more, read our related posts or contact the workforce development experts at Premium Staffing today.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)