Connecting With Portable Power Drill Safety

By Judy Kerry
State Compensation Insurance Fund

Portable power drills are useful tools and common to many construction projects. If used properly they’re safe and efficient. But when not handled correctly, they can cause serious injuries from being struck by flying drilling material, from bit punctures or bores into flesh, or from electric shock.

To keep safe while working with portable power drills follow all recommended safety precautions.

Take good care of your portable power drill. When drills are treated roughly, dropped or hit against things, or if they get wet, their insulation can weaken. Without proper insulation you may have a live drill in your hand. Then, if you stand in a wet place, sit on a steel beam or floor plate or if you’re very sweaty, the drill can give you a shock which could be fatal.

Before you start a power drill activity, inspect the tool carefully. Locate any hazards and decide on a safe plan of action. Here are some points to check:

  • Is the drill clean? If it’s dirty or rusty, tag it and return it to supply for maintenance.
  • Make sure the drill speed is proper for the job. Pull the trigger to be sure it doesn’t work too easily or too hard and that power cuts off when the trigger is released.
  • Be sure the drill bit is set straight in the jaws. Hold up the drill and turn it on for a moment. The bit should run perfectly true without any wobble. If it wobbles, either the bit isn’t straight or it is in the jaws crooked. A sharp bit will take hold without much pressure.
  • Examine the cord for breaks, exposed wires, and looseness at the plug or housing connections. Unless the drill is double insulated, be sure there is a ground wire and the third prong has not been cut off. Use only grounding extension cords placed so they won’t cause tripping hazards. You don’t want to have an electric drill jerked out of your hands, and if someone else trips on your cord, both of you could be injured.
  • Drill the hole at the correct angle. Keeping the drill straight takes steadiness and care. If a drill isn’t held just right, the bit may bend or break. Use a pointed metal punch to start your drill right.
  • You may need to alter your pressure or change the drill bit depending on the type of material being drilled. Very soft metals like copper or aluminum will cut with little pressure. Hard steel needs a different bit. More pressure must be applied, but care is necessary because too much will make the drill overheat and bind.
  • Check the floor for loose or fixed objects that may cause a tripping hazard. When you’re concentrating on a drilling job, it’s easy to trip over something unexpected.

Whether you are carrying the portable power drill to the jobsite or returning it to the tool room, remove the bit and don’t carry it by the cord. Find a safe place to put the drill. Install a hanger so the drill can be hooked up out of the way but still within easy reach. And finally, never leave your power drill plugged in while not in active use.