Health and Safety - Pneumatic Drills
There are many tools and pieces of equipment used by workers in the construction industry that can pose a danger to the health of the operator or those around them. One such piece of equipment is a pneumatic drill which is used to break up tough concrete and tarmac, with many associated dangers.
First off, the tool itself is usually heavy and cumbersome, and requires the operator to lean over slightly whilst drilling. This can have obvious manual handling consequences as it is used and moved around, meaning that as well as being suitably trained in its correct operation, workers should also receive manual handling training to reduce the chances of them causing themselves a manual handling injury.
Secondly, the hazard which most people will be familiar with when they think of a pneumatic drill is that of the noise it makes. Whilst it may just be an inconvenience for those members of the public walking past or people in nearby buildings, for the workers who are so close to the drill the noise is a real danger, as it can cause permanent hearing damage to them. Those working with or close to the drill should wear suitable ear protection.
Drilling into concrete and tarmac can create pieces of flying debris and dust which is a hazard that needs to be taken into consideration. This debris can strike a person in the eye and cause damage to it, whilst the dust can be breathed in and aggravate conditions such as asthma or cause damage to lungs. Certain precautions and preventative measures can be taken to minimise the risks to health including the wearing of goggles to protect eyes and the dampening down of surfaces to reduce the amount of dust that is released into the air from the drilling.
Pneumatic drills also create a lot of vibration for the operator as they hold and operate it. Certain actions such as wearing proper gloves, taking regular breaks and rotating the drilling task with others can reduce the risks of a person suffering vibration-related conditions such as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Plus, although it sounds obvious, those operating the drill need to make sure that they do not drill into their foot, as the position of their feet will be close to where the drill contacts the ground. Wearing boots with steel toe caps and paying attention to what they are doing at all times and not being distracted can contribute to a worker minimising the risk of injury in this way.
As with most tools and equipment, a combination of common sense, health and safety training, and training in the correct operation of the equipment can greatly reduce the chances of an accident or mishap which results in injury to one or more people.