When you think of a construction worker using a Jackhammer, it’s easy to assume that the most apparent insurance risk is physical damage to pipes or other property.
These type of claims fall under the Public Liability section of your Construction Insurance policy. However, the wider risk is actually to the operator themselves.
Louder Than a Jumbo Jet!
Jackhammers are one of the most dangerous types of hand tools because they can cause serious damage not only to your body from intense vibrations but also to your hearing.
On average, a worker operating a jackhammer is exposed to about 130 decibels of noise – that’s a little louder than a jet plane taking off and slightly quieter than firearms or an air raid siren.
Potential Long-term Usage Injuries
In addition to damaging your hearing, jackhammer use also poses significant risks to the hands and wrists. In fact, using a jackhammer frequently can quickly lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or Raynaud’s disease, also known as vibration white finger.
Failure to provide your employees with the correct training and protective equipment can lead to costly Employers Liability claims, which can feed into significant increases to your Public and Employers Liability Insurance Premiums.
Operation Tips and Best Practice
As with all types of risk, proper planning and risk management is the most effective way to reduce your risk of claims as well as improving employee safety.
Follow these tips for safe jackhammer operation:
- Read the instruction manual and receive the proper training before operating the machinery.
- Inspect the equipment before use.
- Ensure that the safety guards are correctly in place and in good working order.
- Make sure bits are sharp.
- Inspect the compression hose for any damage.
- For three-wire system electric models, ensure they are correctly earthed to avoid a fire or shock.
- For electrical models, use an extension cable large enough to accommodate the distance between the hammer and the receptacle tool.
- For air models, fill the petrol tank with the engine off.
- Wear long trousers, long sleeves, eye protection (goggles or safety glasses), ear protection (earplugs or earmuffs), non-slip gloves, a protective mask, helmet and steel toe-cap boots with non-slip soles.
- Do not use a jackhammer in wet conditions.
- Remove the chuck key before using.
During Use Precautions
- Disconnect power or air supply before putting in or removing tools.
- Lock tools before using.
- Grip the tool just tight enough to maintain control, but allow the jackhammer to do the work.
On-Going Risk Management
As well as making the above tips part of your daily activity, you should also perform risk assessments at every site as well as implementing a thorough Health and Safety training programme for all employees and Labour Only Sub-contractors.
This should not only include new employees, but also regular refresher training for existing employees as it is easy to become complacent or to fall into bad habits.
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