Workplace Tools & Equipment Safety: Techniques & Regulations

Instructor: Robert Supple

Robert holds a BS in Geology and Nursing and has worked and developed curriculum in the H S & E field in industrial and medical settings for over 25 years.

This lesson gives an overview of the safety techniques and regulations for tools and equipment in the workplace. Specifically discussed are hand tools, ladders, grinders, mobile equipment, and robotics.

Responsibility for Safety

Amy, the safety coordinator for ABC Construction, is responsible for all aspects of employee safety. She has to continuously identify any hazardous situations, environments, and work practices that could cause harm to her employees. One aspect she has focused on is the tools and equipment supplied to the employees by ABC. Amy feels that she and the company have a moral obligation to ensure that all tools and equipment are safe and in good condition. She also understands that the general regulatory requirement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states: 'Each employer shall be responsible for the safe condition of tools and equipment used by employees, including tools and equipment which may be furnished by employees.'

Let's look at some specific practices Amy has implemented as they relate to different types of equipment.

Hand Tools and Portable Power Tools

Amy has put controls in place to ensure the proper condition of equipment. These controls follow basic OSHA safety recommendations.

  • She has implemented a regular maintenance schedule for all equipment.
  • She has implemented a company policy requiring the correct tool to be identified for each job.
  • Inspection for damage before use is required, and damaged tools are removed from service.
  • Following the manufacturer's operating instructions is mandatory.
  • Personal protective equipment is required when using hand and portable power tools.

These simple controls ensure that hand and power tools are ready for service.


Ladders are frequently used at ABC construction sites and are another component of equipment safety. Amy follows OSHA recommendations for the inspection and use of ladders. Inspections are required before each use, and damaged ladders are removed from service. Labels must be intact and readable indicating weight limits and instruction for proper use. When using a ladder, the base must be on a stable foundation, placed at the correct angle, and checked for stability before climbing. Employee training emphasizes inspection, positioning your body near the middle of the rungs, and facing the ladder when climbing.


Grinders are a particular concern for Amy. Because they are a common piece of equipment at the worksite, she knows workers can become complacent. An employee was recently injured by a grinder. Investigation revealed that a grinding wheel shattered and struck the employee in the face. Determined to prevent another injury, Amy implements policies to be followed for grinder use.

  • Inspect the condition of the grinder before use.
  • Inspect the grinding wheel for cracks or flaws, and replace if necessary
  • Verify that the RPM rating for the grinder does not exceed the RPM rating for the grinding wheel.
  • Ensure the wheel guard is attached and adjusted correctly.
  • Full face shields are to be used at all times when grinding.

Other hazards associated with grinding include fire and explosions, electrical shock, and generation of hazardous fumes.

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