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How to safely use powder-actuated tools - Concrete Construction

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How to safely use
powder-actuated tools
he powder loads for powder-actuated tools are more
powerful than charges used
in handguns. But even
though nearly 1 billion powder-actuated fastenings were made last
year in the United States, a comparatively small number of related injuries occurred. That’s because design changes for the tools have
made them safer, and training programs have shown operators how
to use the tools safely. Wo rk e r s
must pass an examination to receive a card identifying them as
qualified operators. And they must
carry the card whenever using powder-actuated tools.
The Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) requires training for the safe use of
these tools. In 1970, OSHA adopted
the American National St a n d a rd s
Institute safety requirements (ANSI
A10.3) for powder-actuated tools. To
qualify, the operator must be
trained by an authorized instructor
and be able to do the following:
в– Read and understand the
manufacturer’s instruction
в– Clean the tool correctly
в– Recognize the number/color
code that identifies powder loads
(color-blind operators may
receive special instruction, based
on the tool manufacturer’s policy)
в– Use the tools correctly and safely
in the presence of the instructor
Powder-actuated tool manufacturers provide the detailed training
and licensing exams, safety prog ra m s, and literature to help increase worker safety awareness.
Many manufacturers also belong to
the Powder-actuated Tool Manufacturers’ Institute (PATMI), which promotes safety standards.
Precautions before firing
To prevent eye injury or hearing
loss, wear safety gear that protects
eyes and ears. Bystanders should also wear safety gear. Posting warning signs within 50 feet of the work
area helps to keep other workers
away. Also make sure no flammable
or explosive materials are nearby.
If you are shooting into a material with unknown pro p e rt i e s, test it
before firing a fastener. Use one of
the fasteners as a center punch and
tap it against the material with a 2pound hammer. Use about the
same effort needed to start a 16pennyÉ nail into a 2x4. If the material blunts the fastener tip, it’s too
hard for using powder-actuated fasteners. If the material cracks, it’s too
b ri t t l e. And if the fastener penetrates easily, the material is too soft.
The fastener tip should make a clear
impression without being blunted.
Generally, only structural steel and
concrete of appropriate thicknesses
are suitable for powder-actuated
Before using the tool, make sure
it’s unloaded. Load it using the
m a n u f a c t u re r’s
loading sequence only when you
are ready to complete the fastening.
If you load the tool and decide not
to fire it, always remove the powder
load first, then the fastener. Ne ve r
leave a loaded tool unattended;
someone could pick it up and injure
themselves or others accidentally.
When handling or loading the
tool, keep your hand and fingers
away from the front muzzle end of
the tool and never point it at a person or yourself.
Before making a fastening, do a
test fastening at the lowest power
level for the tool. If this load fails to
fully set the fastener, try the next
higher load until the proper one is
found. Overpowering can cause a
fastener to pass through the material, possibly injuring a co-worker.
Using the tool
Always hold the tool perpendicular to the work surface to avoid injury from ricocheting fasteners. On
l ow - velocity tools, use the spall
guard whenever possible.
Never fire the tool without a fastener in it. If a low-velocity tool is
fired without a fastener, the piston
will ram into the work surface, possibly injuring a co-worker.
If shooting into a steel base ma-
terial, make sure it’s thicker than the
fastener shank diameter. Otherwise
the fastener could pass through the
steel and injure someone.
To prevent ricocheting fasteners
or flying debris:
в– Never set a fastener too close to
another fastening or in a spalled
1. Pull the tool barrel completely
open to reset the piston.
read and understand the instruction
manual specific to the model you’re
Safe, efficient use of powder-actuated tools requires active participation by the operator...a properly
trained and licensed operator. Contact the manufacturer of your speci
Г­fic tool for complete training and licensing information.
в– Never fasten within 3 inches of
the edge of concrete or within 1вЃ„2
inch of the edge of steel base
в– Never fire into brittle materials
such as cast iron, tile, glass, or
rock because they can shatter.
в– Never fire through or into a hole;
the fastener could strike the edge
of the hole.
If the tool doesn’t fire
2. Close the barrel partially.
3. Place fastener, point out, into
the front end of the barrel.
Always load the fastener before
chambering the powder load.
If the tool doesn’t fire after pulling
the trigger, continue to hold the tool
against the work surface for at least
30 seconds. Then carefully remove
the powder load and discard it in a
safe place—not a trash container.
Never unload or disassemble a
jammed, stuck, or broken tool that
contains a live powder load. Just tag
it “defective” and immediately store
it in a locked container. Call a qualified person to repair it.
Storing the tool and
powder loads
Powder loads and the tools
should be stored separately. Store
the unloaded tool in a locked carrying case. Store powder loads in a
separate locked container, with no
other hard objects in the container.
Never carry fasteners or other
hard objects in the same pocket
with powder loads. The loads may
explode if they’re jarred sharply by a
hard object.
Know your specific tool
4. Insert the disc (or strip)
containing powder loads.
Semiautomatic tools have either a
strip-feed or disc-feed loading system.
The photos show a safe loading
sequence for a disc-feed tool.
Most safety rules apply generally
to all powder-actuated tools. But
there are operational differences between single-shot and semiautomatic tools and between tools from
different manufacturers. Always
Copyright В© 1989, The Aberdeen Group
All rights reserved
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