Drilling and Vibration Hazards in Construction

Drilling concrete and other surfaces can cause a myriad of injury to workers, especially over time. Not only does hand-arm vibration exposure contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, but whole-body vibration can lead to debilitating low back injury and long-term medical problems.

Safety experts warn that stationary postures or excessive movement of any type can stress the spine and, depending on the body action needed to use the tool, can cause neck and back problems.

Informing workers of the risks and how to avoid or reduce them, as well as training them on the proper protection, is a critical part of an injury prevention program that addresses the long-term risks posed by working around excessive vibration sources. Both hand-held and stationary tools that transmit vibration through a work piece can cause vibration “white fingers” or hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). White fingers, or Raynaud’s Syndrome, is a disease of the hands in which the blood vessels in the fingers collapse due to repeated exposure to vibration. Early signs of HAVS are infrequent feelings of numbness and/or tingling in the fingers, hands, or arms, or numbness and whiteness in the tip of the finger when exposed to cold. As the disease progresses, a worker experiences more frequent attacks of numbness, tingling, and pain and finds it difficult to use his or her hands. A worker with advanced HAVS may be disabled for a long time.

Basic safety measures include the proper PPE:

  • Protecting eyes and face: While working on concrete, employees should protect eyes and face from flying objects and particles. Dust is produced from concrete¬†drilling, so to prevent this make sure employees wear safety goggles and face shields.
  • Hand protection: Heavy-duty leather or rubber gloves should be worn by workers who would drill concrete. Wrist cuffs and armlets optimize maximum protection. Instruct workers to keep their hands warm and dry and to not grip a vibrating tool too tightly. Workers should allow the tool or machine to do the work.
  • Hearing damage protection: To prevent undue damage, workers should wear earplugs or earmuffs whenever the equipment is producing a lot of noise.
  • Arrange work tasks so vibrating and nonvibrating tools can be used alternately.
  • Restrict the hours a worker uses a vibrating tool during the workday. Allow employees to take 10 – 15 minute breaks from the source of the vibration every hour.
  • Train workers about the hazards of working with vibrating tools. Instruction should include the sources of vibration exposure, early signs and symptoms of hand-arm vibration syndrome, and work practices for minimizing vibration exposure.

For these any other safety tips, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.








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