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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.

Relevant Health and Safety Courses:

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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