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Construction Site Safety - Drills

The health and safety dangers from drills are so varied, and their use so widespread, that they are often mentioned in NEBOSH General Certificate courses as well as construction-specific training courses such as the NEBOSH Construction Certificate and SMSTS.

Some of the many hazards that drills can pose include:

i) Noise - Drills are inherently noisy pieces of equipment, both from the motor and from the friction caused by the drill bit going into the material being drilled. Suitable ear protection needs to be worn whilst the drill is in operation to prevent damage to hearing. Not only does the operator of the drill require this, but also those working nearby can have their hearing damaged too without appropriate protection.

ii) Dust - As the drill bores a hole into the material it will create a lot of dust. This dust will be a coshh (control of substances hazardous to health) risk and so coshh regulations will come into play. Whilst a small amount of dust may not always pose a danger to a person's health, over time the cumulative effects can cause severe damage, and so workers in industries such as the construction industry will be particularly at risk. It is for this reason that many construction workers will benefit from bespoke coshh training which can not only cover dust but also other hazardous substances that they are likely to encounter such as paint and cement.

iii) Electrocution - Electric drills will require electricity to run them, meaning that there is always a danger of electrocution if the equipment is damaged, inadequately maintained or comes into contact with water. There is also a risk of electrocution if the drill bit comes into contact with live electrical wiring.

iv) Vibration - Most drills will vibrate in the operator's hands as they drill a hole, and can lead to conditions such as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

v) Eye Injury - Drilling holes can cause small fragments as well as dust to fly around which can cause an eye injury to the operator and those immediately nearby. The wearing of eye protection such as goggles will prevent such injury.

vi) Entanglement - Rotating drill bits can entangle hair or clothing which can cause severe injury to a person. Although nearly all drills will stop rotating by simply releasing the pressure on the trigger switch, they will take a few seconds to cease rotating, in which time an entanglement injury could occur.

vii) Trip Hazard - Some drills will be cordless and powered by a battery, but electric drills will require a cable between the drill and the power socket. This cable can create a trip hazard, especially if it is pulled tight and so is raised up off the ground.

viii) Manual Handling Risks - Having to move, carry and manipulate a drill will require an effort and physical exertion, particularly if the drill is heavy or cumbersome. A person is therefore at risk of suffering a manual handling injury from such equipment.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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