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What are the safeguarding requirements for drill presses?
  • Guards for electric drill presses must protect employees from the rotating bit, chuck, and swarf.
  • Employers must outfit each drill press with necessary guards and train employees to secure material properly and to follow other safe work procedures.

Electric drill presses use a rotating bit to drill or cut holes in wood or metal. These holes may be cut to preset depths or completely through the stock. Electric drill presses are highly useful across industry, but the ease with which these powerful tools can operate makes the hazards they pose very real.

Drill presses pose amputation hazards from employees making direct contact with the rotating drill bit during and from clothing or hair getting caught in rotating parts. To protect employees from these and other hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers with drill presses to establish adequate safeguards.

Safeguarding requirements for drill presses

OSHA requires all employers with drill presses to:

  • Protect employees from the rotating chuck and swarf with effective shielding, such as telescoping shielding that attaches to the quill and retracts as the bit contacts the stock;
  • Install guarding over the motor, belts, and pulleys;
  • Install an adjustable guard to cover the unused portion of the bit and chuck above the stock;
  • Develop and implement safe operating practices for drill press operations, such as removing the chuck immediately after each use, and conduct periodic inspections to ensure compliance with these practices;
  • Train and supervise all operators until they can work safely on their own;
  • Instruct employees to secure long hair in a net or cap and not to wear gloves, jewelry, or loose-fitting clothing while operating a drill press;
  • Ensure that operators secure stock to the drill press bed with clamps before drilling so the stock will not spin or strike the operator, and ensure that operators do not manually secure the stock to the bed while the drill bit is rotating;
  • Replace projecting chucks and set screws with non-projecting safety-bit chucks and set screws;
  • Ensure that all servicing and maintenance is performed under an energy control program in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.147, “The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)”; and
  • Anchor the machinery so it will not “walk” or tip during operation.

(These requirements are found at 1910.212 and 1910.213.)