How to: Safeguard a drill press

in How-To Series by John
Drill Press Safety Guards

Drill Press Safety

Drill presses make holes inside wood or metal by using a rotating drill bit.  Safeguarding a drill press is quite simple, however the choice of safety guard might be tricky.  We will try to make choosing a safety guard easier.  Drill presses have certain things that need to be safeguarded such as:

  1. The chuck area.
  2. The belt and pulley cover.
  3. Anti-restart protection.

Manufacturers are under no obligation to sell you a safe drill press.  We will try to break down the individual parts of a drill press that may need safety upgrades.

The drill Press Chuck

The chuck area needs a safety guard to prevent entanglement.  Placing a shield in front of the chuck is the most popular safeguarding choice.  Many options are available such as magnetic goose-neck or clamp type shields on drill presses.  The problem with these type of shields is that it’s super easy to just ignore them.  They are often found lying on the ground behind the machine.  Forgotten and unused.  A better solution would be to install a permanently fixed safety guard.

Ferndale Safety has a great selection of safety guards for a variety of machines.  You can see Ferndale’s selection of drill press safety guards by clicking here.  The great thing about Ferndale’s guards is that they have electrical interlocks.  This means that, if you try to start the machine with the guard open, it just won’t start.  Another great thing about interlocking, is that it will force you to remove the chuck key.  I will admit, with some shame that I have done it before.  I forgot to remove the chuck key and moments later, I have to fetch it across the room.  Luckily, it didn’t hit me or anyone else but it sure could have been a lot worst.  If I had an interlocked shield that I had to close back then, I wouldn’t have forgotten to remove the key.  The shield would have just not closed all the way into it’s “safe” position, preventing me from turning on the drill press.

The belt & Pulley Cover

Covers on top of drill presses are there to cover the drive belt and pulleys.  An operator can easily open this cover while the drill press is running.  To prevent dangerous things like this from happening, a fastener or switch must be installed.  A fastener can’t be something you can easily unscrew with your hands.  It must be unscrewed with something like a nut driver or Allen key.  This is actually a general standard for any machine.

A belt cover can have an interlocked installed instead of a fastener.  The advantage is that you don’t have to remove the fastener every time you need to open the cover.

Anti-Restart Protection

What is anti-restart protection?  Anti-restart protection means that a machine won’t start automatically by itself without human intervention.

For example: You have a drill press without anti-restart protection and it shut down because of a power outage.  As soon as the power comes back on, this drill will start right back up, provided that nobody turned it off during the power outage.

The best thing to do on your drill presses is to install an anti-restart device such as a motor starter.  Ferndale has some great and inexpensive options for motor starters.  Click here to see a great motor starter for drill presses.

Further Reading

Check out this excellent PDF from OSHA’s website.  On page 41 in the PDF, you will find great information on drill press safety.