Hazards of a Drill Press: How to Prevent Them

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There are certain hazards most workers are exposed to when operating a drill press that they don’t even know about.

This article is my attempt to teach you what are those risks and how you can prevent them. Let’s begin.

The Risks of Operating a Drill Press

Lots of things can go wrong when using a drill press. Let’s learn together about what are the hazards of operating a drill press the wrong way.

Clothing and Hair can Get Stuck in Moving Parts

A drill press basically consists of a spinning drill bit held by a chuck that goes up and down managed by a lever. This drill bit not only drills through metal and wood, but it can drill through other materials such as cotton and the sorts… see where I’m getting at?

If you wear loose clothing when operating a drill press, there’s a big chance these can get stuck in the drill bit generating a big mess and a safety hazard, for you and those around.

Pro-tip: I’d say rolling up the sleeves is a must if you’re used to wearing a long sleeve shirt as this will prevent the shirt cuffs from getting hooked by the drill bit.

Wounds by Flying Chips/Swarf

When operating a drill press to drill through wood or metal sheets, there’s no chance there won’t be chips and swarf flying around.

These little specs of material can seriously harm you or your clothing and they are sent at incredible amounts of speed.

Pro-tip: In this context, I recommend workers to use a professional-grade work apron as it not only protects you and your clothes, but it also keeps any of the previous accidents from happening.

Eye Injuries

This is a whole other problem for workers that operate drill presses.

When using this machine with your eyes exposed, there’s a big chance you could injure them as little specs of material are flying all around at high speeds. Eye injuries suck, and the sad thing about them is that most of them are preventable.

Pro-tip: To prevent this, I would wear safety glasses as this is the easiest way to make sure your eyes are properly protected.

In my case, I just buy a box of these KLEENGUARD safety glasses once in a while and they do the job perfectly.

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How to Prevent Getting Injured When Using a Drill Press

Learn How to Properly Operate the Drill Press

If you’d like to know a bit more about how to safely operate a drill press to avoid injuries, I invite you to watch these videos of this nice man that teaches exactly that:

YouTube video

Are All The Guards Operational?

Drill press guards are by far one of the best safety accessories for drill presses. They cost around 20 to 40 bucks and they are responsible for preventing the contact between flying debris and moving parts.

Just go to the nearest hardware store and install a universal guard, you’ll be thankful for it.

Is the Drill Bit Securely Locked?

This is a must-do operational check before even starting the drill press.

Not properly tightening the chuck to the drill bit is a common mistake a lot of drill press owners make.

Sadly, things can go very wrong if you don’t secure the drill bit properly. I mean, the drill bit can go flying around at really high speeds seriously injuring the user.

So, take 30 seconds and inspect the chuck and drill bit well to see if everything is set the right way.

Avoid Trip Hazards

Drill presses are usually placed in workshops surrounded by other equipment. In these places, you’ll frequently find anything going from corded drills, hammers, impact wrenches, etc…

As you may already know, many of these power tools are powered by connecting to electrical outlets via cables. As a result, these cables and the sheer unorganized nature of a workshop stand in the way of safely operating a drill press.

This is why I’d say it’s best to make sure there are no cables around the drill press you’re about to use to make sure there are no tripping hazards for you or anyone around you. Otherwise, you might risk getting severely injured.

Make Sure The Drill is Completely Off Before Making Adjustments

This is a big one for me.

I believe drill presses to be like guns, you have to handle them with extreme care. Otherwise, things could go really wrong. As you have to make sure the gun is completely unloaded to manipulate it without suffering accidents, you have to make sure the drill press is completely off before making adjustments to it.

So, the next time you wanna change the drill bit or even adjust the speed of your drill press, make sure to completely turn the drill press off. That way, you’ll enjoy the guarantee nothing bad will happen.

Operate The Drill Slowly to Prevent Accidents

If you’re in a hurry, then I don’t recommend you to operate a drill press.

And I’m not talking about the quality of your work being compromised, I’m talking about your own health being at risk. When you lose respect for a drill press and you start using it as if it was a toy, you might get seriously injured. I’ve seen this happen dozens of times at the workshop.

This is why I’d advise you to manage the drill press’ level carefully, regardless of the experience you have as this is the best way to make sure your safety and that of the people around you.

Vacuum Cuttings

When drilling, you’re making a hole in a surface.

Regardless if that surface is made of metal or wood, there will be little specs of wood or metal shavings that will come out from the newly made hole.

Due to their lightweight nature, these residues can be sent with a lot of speed all around, hell, they can end up stuck in your eyes if you’re not using proper protection.

This is why I think stopping the drill press and vacuuming these residues is a good method to not only improve the chances of drilling correctly but also to avoid hazards.

Clamp Everything Down

It doesn’t matter what you’re drilling on.

If you don’t clamp down the piece you’re drilling, the sheer power of the drill press will send it flying around the workshop injuring whoever is in the way.

So, take a few seconds, grab your trusty clamps and avoid a potential disaster.

Wear Proper Equipment

I left this tip for the end because I wanted it to stick to your brain.

If you wear proper safety equipment when using a drill press, you’ll prevent 99% of the accidents that may happen if things take a turn for the worst.

So, in short, this is the equipment I recommend people that use drill presses frequently to use:

  • Safety glasses: These will make sure no debris or flying residues get in contact with your eyes
  • Work gloves: These will not only provide impact and abrasion resistance but they will offer great grip when handling the drill press’ lever to avoid severe accidents
  • Professional grade work aprons: These will protect your body and clothes, especially the professional-grade ones
Hi, I’m John Smith, a proud husband, and father of two little beautiful girls. After a long time of thinking I made up my mind to build a website around my passion.. helping people who need smart advice from handymen with years of experience.

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