Powder-actuated tools are commonly used to join materials to steel and concrete. Also known as Hilti guns, they feature single-use explosive cartridges. Pulling the trigger will ignite one of these cartridges, resulting in a small explosion. While effective at joining materials to steel and concrete, though, powder-actuated tools pose a risk of injury when used improperly. Here are five safety tips to follow when using a powder-actuated tool.
#1) Wear PPE
Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when using a powder-actuated tool. There are several forms of PPE that can lower your risk of injury. Since the explosions created by powder-actuated tools are loud, you should wear hearing protection. Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs will protect you from hearing loss. You should also wear impact-resistant glasses or goggles. Powder-actuated tools can create debris that shoots in random directions. If a piece of debris comes toward your face, impact-resistant glasses or goggles may protect you from injury.
#2) Point in a Safe Direction
Keep powder-actuated tools pointed in a safe direction at all times. They are designed to generate a small, controlled explosive charge at the tip. If you point a powder-actuated tool at another worker or yourself, injury may occur. The powder-actuated tool may accidentally go off, resulting in potentially serious bodily injury.
#3) Don't Carry Loaded
Another safety tip to follow when using a powder-actuated tool is to wait to load it. In other words, don't carry around a loaded powder-actuated tool. Wait until you've arrived at the job site and are ready to use it. Only then should you load the powder-actuated tool.
#4) Hold Perpendicular
When you are ready to use a powder-actuated tool, hold it perpendicular to the object that you want to fasten. Holding a powder-actuated tool at an angle is never a good idea. Powder-actuated tools work by generating a small explosion, which they use to drive fasteners like nails into objects. If you hold the powder-actuated tool at an angle -- even if it's a small angle -- the fastener may shoot out of the object.
#5) Read and Follow the Owner's Manual
If you haven't done so already, you should read the owner's manual for the powder-actuated tool. There are dozens of different powder-actuated tools, some of which have different features than others. And because they are designed differently, they may require different steps to use and maintain. Always follow the instructions in the owner's manual to ensure safe operation.