How you can reduce the hazards associated with power tools

Each type of tool will come with its own safety considerations.

Even the best-organised job sites always come with a certain amount of danger that is simply unavoidable in the construction industry. Of course, it's important to take appropriate measures to identify and minimise hazards, but vigilance is still a necessity. To that end, it's worth considering how one of the most potentially hazardous elements of the job - power tools - are impacting safety.

Power tools present many potential dangers, and while some of these are specific to certain types of tools, others are blanket issues that are a bit harder to avoid. Here at Hilti, we firmly believe in making construction sites as safe as possible, so in this article we'll take a look at a few ways to reduce risk when using power tools.

The types of tools you use

Some power tools will always be more dangerous than others, but there are still some hazards that are always going to be present, regardless of the tool. A classic example of this is cords and cables.

A tool that needs to be physically tethered to a power supply is a tripping hazard, and that danger is only intensified when working at heights. For decades, there wasn't an easy way to get around this issue. Sure, there were cordless alternatives available but these often lacked the same power and performance of a wired tool. That's all changed now thanks to modern Lithium-ion batteries, which can provide high levels of power for long stretches of time. This ensures that protection doesn't have to come at the expense of performance.

In addition to high-performance cordless tools, Hilti also supplies extension poles for our explosive power tools, which allow tradies to complete fastening tasks without having to leave the ground. As working at heights is one of the most frequent ways injuries occur on construction sites, any way to keep your feet firmly on the ground is a positive. 

New technological innovations have now made it possible to actively limit the dangers of dust on a construction site.

Safety through engineering and innovation

Not all safety issues are as easy to solve as those associated with working at heights. Some hazards are simply unavoidable, and when using power tools, dust is one of the biggest. Dust is generated by most of the jobs carried out on a typical construction site, and it results in an inhospitable working environment as well as presenting a health risk. To make matters worse, dust also has a significant impact on tools, substantially reducing their operational life span.

In the past, dust was regarded as one of those things that just came with the territory, but new technological innovations have now made it possible to actively limit the dangers of dust on a construction site. Hilti's Dust Removal Systems (DRS) provide such a solution, working as part of a workflow that extends from the tool itself through to vacuum removal.

Hilti Dust Removal Systems include separate vacuum cleaners and tool attachments which can remove dust and other debris directly at the source. For example, the TE DRS-M
dust removal attachment
for Hilti rotary hammers is powered by the tool’s own motor, and collects material in a container attached directly to the tool. As an added bonus, Hilti’s DRS technology adds to a tool’s lifespan, and reduces the time it takes to complete certain tasks by eliminating the need for constant cleaning. 

Dust is one of the biggest potential hazards on a job site.

Understand the dangers

Perhaps the biggest key to minimising the dangers of power tools on construction sites is having a better understanding of just what the dangers are. Not all are immediately obvious, and if they are it's difficult to gauge at which point they transition from being part of the job to a potential health and safety risk. The two best examples of this are vibration and noise. Both are largely unavoidable, and while safe in small doses, can pile up to pose a health risk.

Long-term exposure to vibration can damage blood vessels, bones and nerves in the arms and hands. The two biggest factors at play here are the duration of exposure and the amount of vibration that is transferred to the tool's user. Both can be actively targeted by limiting daily use of tools with heavy vibration, known as 'trigger time,' but sometimes this isn’t enough. To really make sure that your workplace is safe, invest in Hilti tools with Active Vibration Reduction (AVR) technology. AVR uses springs and pivots to isolate vibrating parts such as the hammer mechanism and motor, making tools like the TE 700-AVR demolition breaker less tiring and less dangerous to use.

The same basic concept applies to noise. It is the constant exposure to excessive noise that carries the threat of hearing loss, so make sure to take plenty of breaks and always use appropriate safety equipment.

Ultimately, it's never possible to bring the level of risk on a construction site down to zero, but by being aware of the dangers and minimising them through best practises and appropriate tools, exposure to any hazards can be effectively limited, making your site safer and more productive. 


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