Power tools are an essential part of our everyday lives. We use them in the garages, workshops, installing cabinets, and even in the yard. Power tools are fundamental but very dangerous when in the wrong hands. The wrong hands can be a newbie, a drunkard, or a child. 

As such, you may have been wondering if your child or teenage son, or daughter is legally allowed to use a power tool.

There’s no law regarding the age at which one can use a power tool. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no specific regulations regarding minors using power tools. 

It suggests that children under 18 years shouldn’t operate power tools in particular environments. These include roofing, woodworking, circular saws, guillotine shears, and bandsaws. 

However, it states that there exist limited exceptions for minors in power tool apprenticeship programs. As long as a minor is old and skilled enough to hold the power tool, they’re good to use one. However, as a parent or trainer, you must guide the learner on a tool’s usage.

Like driving vehicles, which some learn while very young, the right age to use power tools is variable. But is driving a car while underage legal? No. The reasons are pretty obvious, but safety is paramount. I began using power tools as a teenager, so I believe that that’s the best time to start using them.

Read on to find more on power tool usage and safety to determine if you’re old enough to use one.

Power Tool Safety

Power tools are dangerous when mishandled. 

First, power tools not only require basic understanding but the expertise to use. Improper use of the tool will cause damages to itself, the material you are working on, and yourself. 

Secondly, power tools rely on electricity to operate. Electricity is dangerous; hence, one must be aware of the dangers of the power tool and the electricity.

Listed below are safety precautions that must be adhered to, especially for beginner DIY.

Personal Safety

You must prioritize human safety first before anything else in a work environment. When using a power tool, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, follow the basic principles of personal safety.  

Always use the right tool for a job, organize your work area, and wear personal protective equipment (PPEs).

Don’t operate power tools that you have little knowledge about their working. Avoid handling power tools while intoxicated, sick, exhausted, or taking strong medications.

Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing and open shoes in the garage or workshop.

Using A Power Tool

Ensure that you can hold a power tool properly before using it. Check on the handling, grip, automatic brakes, weight, and center of gravity. 

Also, check whether it can be used on either hand, used with one hand, or with both hands. Finally, make sure that you understand the tool’s working, the accessories used with it, and how to respond in the case of a mishap.

Work Area Safety

Make sure that your work area is dry before starting a task. Wet floors or benches are slippery and dangerous to the operator. Remember that water conducts electricity; make sure that all your power outlets are insulated well. 

To prevent electrocution, all outlets in your garage or workshop must be connected to ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Ensure that your workplace is wired correctly by a certified electrician to ensure that the home circuitry supports the extra loading. 

Doing so helps avoid malfunctioning of tools or frequent tripping of the circuit breakers.

Why You Should Allow A Minor To Use A Power Tool?

A life without power tools is a tough one for all concerned parties. And the more you improve your understanding of power tools, the better. Age shouldn’t be a determining factor in a person’s use of a power tool. 

Wouldn’t life be great if you could do basic home repairs or even change your car’s wheel on your own and at a young age? The older you get, the less interested you’ll be in learning the use of power tools. 

Teach your kids how to hold and drive power tools such as impact drivers and slowly introduce them to saws, sanders, grinders, and woodworking power tools. 

Remember to warn them of the repercussions that may befall them if they don’t heed your instructions. But most importantly, make sure to supervise them when using the power tool. 

Why You Shouldn’t Allow A Minor To Use A Power Tool?

Power tools are hazardous and uncontrollable in the hands of a newbie. Some power tools take years to master, while others are pretty easy. However, you must exercise care and caution regardless of whether your child can or can’t use a power tool. 

To understand more about the morality of allowing your child to operate a power tool, let’s take a quick look at the industrial setup. 

You can operate any other equipment without a license except high-risk work such as scaffolding, crane operation, dogmen, forklifts, lifts, and riggers. It is a breach of regulations if one operates a machine without a valid license. 

Also, within the industrial setup, only trained personnel are allowed to use a power tool. Their competence should be top-notch, and it is prevalent to find companies retraining their staff periodically.  

A similar setup should be followed at home, only allowing your child to drive a power tool that they know to use. 

Listed below are why you shouldn’t let a minor operate power tools if they have little knowledge of the device.

It Is Dangerous

Most power tools use three-phase alternating current (AC) to operate. That amount of power in the wrong hands is hazardous and can result in injuries or fire outbreaks.

I’d recommend that you start with hand tools if you’re determined to train your child on the use of tools. Afterward, introduce them to power tools gradually. 

Minors can, at times, fail to understand the extent of damage that can result from the abuse of a power tool. 

Power Tools Are Expensive

Power tool manufacturers caution against the inappropriate use of a tool as it lowers its lifespan. 

Most mid-range to high-end power tools are pretty expensive to purchase and repair. You can’t afford to buy a power tool every once in a while if it gets damaged frequently. 

One Can Sue You For Homicide

Minors are not as mentally mature as adults. 

In a power tool environment, minors may not act as sharply as adults if something goes wrong. 

In the case that your child seriously injures themselves and dies as a result of a mishap while using a power tool, you’re liable and can be sued for negligent homicide. 

In some states such as Tennessee, you might get a five to ten-year prison sentence for negligent homicide.

The Takeaway

Whether we would appreciate it or not won’t change the fact that power tools are here to stay. Learning to use them at a young age is an added advantage for many people. 

We all know how costly it is, currently, to hire labor; labor costs are approximately 40 to 60% of the price of whatever item or structure you’re making. The exorbitant labor cost is one reason for the rising numbers of DIY-ers. 

It is also beneficial when you can do basic home repairs without consulting a technician. 

I’d recommend that you teach your children to use power tools when they’re at an age whereby they can fully understand its working, partnered accessories, and safety measures to follow. 

Every tool has different modes of operation that come with varying standards of safety. Ensure that they’re well versed on the two before you can allow them to operate power tools. 

Sources

OSHA has no specific regulations regarding minors

Power Tool Safety Tips from OSHA

Hand and Power Tools – Overview

Children and Powertools

8 Must-Have Power Tools for a DIY Beginner