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.