No matter what type of tool you are using, safety is everything and this is especially true when it comes to electrical machines such as power drills. Regardless of how many times or how much experience you have with using a drill the safety fundamentals should never be ignored or forgotten.
The Royal College of Surgeons reported that 25,763 gardening and DIY-related injuries occurred in England from 2014-17, many of them due to improper use of hand tools. It can only take a second for an accident to happen, but it only takes a few minutes to take the necessary precautions to improve your safety.
To show you how we’ve put together a list of 12 essential power drill safety tips, so you can remain protected at all times.
Drills are powerful tools that generate high levels of vibration, which is especially true on high torque. The impact and friction they create can also raise the temperature of the machine which is not conductive to exposed skin. This is why it is advised to wear thick gloves when operating a drill. Gloves will help to prevent any blisters or abrasions occurring from the vibration and add an extra layer of protection should the drill become too hot. Gloves also provide better grip which ensures you are always in control rather than the other way around.
When a drill is in operation and boring into any surface it will create a lot of dust particles and shavings. While it may seem that they are a safe distance away from your face, the speed of the rotation against a fixed surface can mean small elements often fly out in almost any direction without notice. Investing in a reliable pair of safety goggles means your eyes are protected at all times and reduces the chance of any injury occurring that could prove particularly painful.
Secure the drill bit
Most modern drills do not come with keyed chucks but for those that do you have to take extra precaution to make sure the drill bit is firmly secured into place. For key-less chucks this can be tightened manually by hand.
Every time you have finished using the drill it should be turned off, unplugged and the chuck loosened to release the drill before placing in a new bit. Before removing the drill bit check the temperature first as they can get very hot and scald the skin. If the chuck is not tightened enough the drill bit is likely to come loose which could lead to any number of accidents occurring, creating danger not only for the user but for those in the immediate area.
Safely create drill holes
A pilot hole is a smaller hole that acts as a guide for the completion of the full-sized hole. This is a much safer way of drilling into wood safely and accurately. It is safer because it requires less pressure to be applied to the drill as the screw is going into the material which ensures you are far less likely to slip. Screws will also go in a lot quicker and straighter which will improve the strength of the structure you are working on so the job is completed to a high standard.
Beware of electric shock
When using any electric tool you need to be careful of any hazards that could lead to an electric shock. Keep an eye out for any exposed wires or looseness around either the plug, or at the connection point in the wall. These rules also apply to any extension used to reach the work area. Carry the tool correctly at all times by the handle and never dangle it loosely by the cord, and when disconnecting from the power source do so by hand and not by pulling it out from a distance. Unless otherwise approved, keep the drill away from any damp or wet areas at all times.
Good maintenance of the drill will mean it remains in good working order and safe to use. There are a number of simple steps (*link to maintenance article) you can follow to clear away the dust from the vents and to lubricate the chuck, as well as checking the rest of the drill’s components are up to scratch.
However, be aware, tampering with your drill even if it’s replacing brushes could invalidate the warranty, so make sure you know what you’re doing before proceeding.
On heavier materials, such as metal, you can use a centre punch to create a guide for the holes. This creates a resting place for the drill bit ensuring it remains in exactly the right spot to create the perfect hole or to push in a screw.
Use the right drill bit
Just as you will want to make sure the drill bit is fixed securely into place in the chuck you will also need to check the right bit is being used for the material you are about to bore into. While it may be easy to think a drill is a drill, this is simply not the case. For example, using a drill bit manufactured for use in wood on a metal substance will require more force to be applied. The knock on effect will be a poor finish and the extra strain placed onto the drill’s motor will shorten its lifespan.
Watch where you drill
Professionals are usually aware of what is behind a wall, floor or ceiling and are able to avoid drilling into anything that could be dangerous. However, for the average homeowner this is usually not the case. For partitioned walls or ceilings it is easier to drill right through the material which means you must first know what sits behind it. This is especially true for areas that might contain electrical wiring which could prove extremely hazardous and create larger problems for the property if affected.
Protect the body
Not only is it advisable to wear a thick jacket while using a power drill but you should always keep your hands clearly visible and not wear any long sleeves or clothing that may restrict their movement. Long pieces of clothing can also interfere with the drill and the surface you are working on so this should also be avoided. Remove any jewellery and long hair must also be tied and kept well out of the way.
Use a drill stand
A drill stand acts as a frame to support the machine so it remains in a sturdy, fixed position while in use. This is particularly useful when drilling into dense materials such as glass or metal and when boring a straight hole is absolutely essential. Not only does it improve the quality of work, but it is safer for the user as it helps to avoid slippage and the work surface is also less likely to pick up any marks or scratches.
Check your speed
Every power drill comes with a set of speed options for a reason. Every job should not be set to the maximum setting just as much as the lowest speed is not always the best option. To get the best performance out of the drill the right power setting needs to be used in relation to the material and type of job it is performing. An easy way to check is to pull the power trigger to check how easily it reacts and that the power stops once you have released the trigger.
Basic precautions to remember:
Here are some reminders of things not to do when operating a drill:
- Never walk or run with the drill in operation.
- The drill should never be left unattended near to children or pets.
- Do not use a drill with an incompatible charger. (Cordless only).
- Never operate a drill if it is damaged or has loose parts.
- Do not throw away the instruction manual – you never know when you may need it.