Common Safety Mistakes when Using Pneumatic Tools

Pneumatic tools include chippers, drills, hammers, jack hammers, nail guns and sanders. They have all the same safety issues as their electric or gas powered counterparts — and then some, thanks to the highly compressed air that powers them.

According to OSHA, the foremost danger of using pneumatic tools is getting hit by an attachment that flies off. Always use a safety clip or retainer to prevent attachments, such as chisels on a chipping hammer, from being ejected during tool operation.

Make sure all hose connections are secured by positive locking devices to prevent accidental disconnection. A disconnected hose under high pressure can whip around wildly and strike nearby workers.

A hose that fails will also create a whipping hazard. A safety excess flow valve to reduce pressure when a hose fails should be installed if the hose is more than ½ inch in diameter.

PPE is a must. Pneumatic tools are often noisier than their electric and gas powered counterparts due to the high-pressure exhaust, so failing to wear hearing protection is another mistake. Eye, face and head protection can save you in the event of flying objects — fragments, nails, sawdust, wood chips, etc. — that can zoom from pneumatic tools. Nearby coworkers can be protected with screens.


The force of compressed air is no joke. May the force be with (not against) you.


Mark Hagen is a former magazine publisher and is currently a senior manager at a construction company. He enjoys writing about construction, equipment/tools and woodworking.