A drill press is a cutting machine that uses a rotating tool to remove wood, metal and other material to create a hole. Drill presses are versatile machines and are commonly used by many trades on a job site.
While drill presses are simple to use and vital for a number of construction tasks, they also present a number of safety risks. This guidance highlights common hazards associated with drill presses and ways to remain safe whenever you operate one.
Key Hazards and Safety Considerations
When it comes to drill presses, three of the most common hazards include:
1. Entanglement—The high-speed rotation of drill bits creates a significant entanglement hazard. If loose clothing or hair becomes caught in the machine, it can lead to serious injuries.
2. Struck-by injuries—Workpieces, if improperly secured, can twist violently when they come into contact with a spinning drill bit. Should this occur, the workpiece can strike and injure drill press operators.
3. Material chippings—Whenever a drill bit comes into contact with a workpiece, it can throw off potentially harmful wood or metal chippings. Not only can this material cause cuts and abrasions, but it can also get into an operator’s eyes if they aren’t equipped with the proper protection.
While drill presses can be dangerous if used improperly, there are a number of safety precautions that can help lower the risk of injury:
- Use drill presses for their intended purposes only.
- Ensure the point of operation of the drill press is guarded, if possible.
- Clamp down your workpieces before drilling them. Apply gradual pressure when drilling into a workpiece.
- Wear the proper personal protective equipment when using a drill press, including safety footwear, glasses and hearing protection.
- Use the proper cutting fluid for the material you are working on.
- Inspect drill presses and bits before use, ensuring they are in good working condition. Never use a dull or cracked drill bit.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing and jewelry, as they can increase entanglement hazards.
- Tie back or confine long hair.
- Know how to turn off the drill press in the event of an emergency.
- Practice good housekeeping. Do not let material chippings build up on the floor, as this can create slip, trip and fall hazards.
- Adjust lighting as needed, ensuring the work area is adequately illuminated.
- Avoid adjusting drill speeds or workpieces while the drill press is running. Ensure drill presses are supervised at all times when they are in use.
For any questions regarding drill press safety, speak with your supervisor.
This Safety Matters flyer is for general informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical or legal advice. © 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.