The electric drill was first patented in 1889 by two Australian inventors. A portable drill equipped with a trigger switch and pistol grip was later patented by Black & Decker in 1917. This design set the stage for the drill's versatile use with a variety of different types manufactured for a wide array of applications.
Today, the portable power drill's widespread use also carries with it the risk of electric shock, puncture wounds, cuts, contusions from spinning/moving parts, strains from torque power, hair and clothing entanglement, contaminant inhalation, burns from hot drill bits, and eye injuries. Because of the associated hazards, OSHA regulates the use of hand-held power drills in their Hand and Power Tools set of standards.
As with any hand tool or piece of equipment, reading the operator's instruction manual and inspecting the power drill for damage are extremely important along with conducting a risk assessment before starting the specific work activity. Here are some safety precautions to keep in mind:
Greg LaRochelle has more than 25 years of experience in the environment, health, and safety field. He began his safety career as a field technician for an environmental consulting firm, eventually becoming operations manager. He then worked as a safety engineer/industrial hygienist for a major Maine company that is an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star site — which was an invaluable experience in terms of becoming familiar with an outstanding safety program. He is a Workers' Compensation Professional (WCP). To read more of MEMIC's Safety Blog, click here.
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