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The Three Safety Measures Often Overlooked on the Jobsite

By Richard Cacchiotti, Contributor

Construction safety comes in many forms – from PPE requirements to proper equipment and protocol training, to the planning and guidance of a qualified safety manager. But did you know that the design and ergonomics of the power tools professionals use on the jobsite every day also fall into this category? Manufacturers are now incorporating innovative technology driven safety features into their tools – especially those performing heavy-duty applications – in order to protect against vibration, loss of user control, and dust. Each are incredibly important and can be contained by choosing tools that are optimized for user safety, without sacrificing performance.

Reducing Vibration

After years of research and conversations with workers on the job, power tool manufacturers recognized the need for solutions that mitigate vibration. Tasks like demolition, and concrete and masonry work, require tools that generate heavy vibration from the impact against hard surfaces. Today you’ll find that most tool makers now incorporate vibration reduction systems in equipment like rotary and demolition hammers, which are some of the biggest contributors to hand/arm vibration exposure.

Mechanisms are now built into tools to help reduce vibration felt at the handles with the purpose of having the tool absorb the shock, rather than the user. Using the rotary and demolition hammer as the example, you will now typically see a small rubber accordion covering the handles, an internal counterbalance weight, or a free-floating mechanism/motor. Both the counterbalance and free-floating mechanism are internal to the tool and seamless in the design.

Increasing User Control

Keeping the user in control of their tool not only keeps workers on task but helps to provide protection particularly in drilling and cutting applications where jams may occur. To reduce the likelihood of bind-ups, manufacturers are now building clutch reducing technology into heavy-duty drills. This system detects the motion of the tool and shuts it down in bind-up situations, helping to minimize sudden torque reaction compared to standard clutches. In addition, some tools like grinders now feature a brake that stops the wheel when a pinch is detected. And finally, integrated solutions like lanyards allow users to tether tools to rigid structures when working at height to secure the tool in case it is dropped.

Containing Dust

Manufacturers are now incorporating innovative safety features into their tools – especially those performing heavy-duty applications – in order to protect against vibration, loss of user control, and dust.

DEWALT has been on jobsites providing dust management solutions to its users for years. Manufacturers are making it a priority to not only focus on dust extraction equipment, but the application as a whole, including the tool, accessory, and extractor to create a seamless, easy-to-follow system.

Users should be implementing grinding, cutting, and drilling shrouds as well as extractors and extraction accessories that capture dust in-application. Capturing dust before it is emitted into the air has three benefits: it reduces the amount of airborne silica particles that users can potentially inhale, increases user visibility for safe, uninterrupted work, and cuts down on tool maintenance costs from prolonged wear and exposure to particles.

To provide an example, our 1-1/8-in. Rotary Hammers cover a large drilling range but are really designed around anchors needing 8-in. embedment. This covers 1-in. diameter holes ideal for mechanical anchors that are typically used in shoring and beam anchorage. It is important to have a solution for onboard extraction for this application. Additionally, a 1-in. Rotary Hammer is now offered with on-board extraction to work with stop bits for users doing work with post-tension cable and Mini-Undercut+ Anchors. This is an important improvement for two major reasons; standard dust collection heads across the industry don’t typically work with stop bits and striking post-tension cable is dangerous to the craftworker.

With experience, testing, and education, built-in safety features are making their way into standard product development practices within the tools industry. CS

Richard Cacchiotti is the Director of Product Development, Commercial Products, DEWALT (www.dewalt.com).

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