Construction Health and Safety - Disc Cutters
Along with tools such as a pneumatic drill, another piece of equipment which has the potential to cause serious damage to health is a disc cutter, as this can cause injury to a person in a number of different ways. It is therefore imperative that construction site workers not only receive health and safety training in general and training on the equipment's specific operation, but that they also apply common sense and ensure that they put into practice what they have learned on the courses or training sessions.
The most obvious danger is that posed by the cutting blade itself. The sharpness and speed that it rotates will cause severe damage to a person if it were to come into contact with them. Care must be taken to avoid this happening, as well as making use of protective guards, adequate space around the work area and not trying to rush the job.
The cutting process is likely to create sparks, dust and/or flying debris as it cuts through the material. Sparks can be a fire hazard if they come into contact with flammable items or liquid such as petrol or oil; dust can cause damage to a person's respiratory system or aggravate conditions such as asthma, whilst flying debris can cause eye damage if it were to hit either the operator or a person nearby in the eye. These risks can be lessened by taking steps such as ensuring no flammable materials or sources of fuel are anywhere near the area where the disc cutter is being operated, wearing suitable eye protection such as goggles or face masks, whilst the hazard posed by dust can be combated by dampening down the material being cut if possible or utilising specific dust vacuums or ventilation hoods to take away the dust at source and stop it being released into the air where it can be inhaled and cause damage. N.B. For more information on the control of hazardous substances (COSHH), please click here.
Some discs can be changed for others of different sizes. In this case it is important to ensure that the disc is securely in place before cutting commences, otherwise the high-speed rotating disc may become loose, fly off and cause serious injury. Even disc cutters where the blade is fixed and cannot be interchanged need to be sufficiently maintained to ensure that their disc is still securely attached at all times.