Portable power drills are one of the most useful tools when it comes to construction and home renovation. But they can also become one of the most dangerous tools if you fail to follow the proper drilling safety measures.
Whether you are a construction worker who is still learning the basics of their line of work, or a homeowner trying to hang a newly bought painting on a wall all by yourself, it goes without saying that you will need to use some kind of a drill in the process.
However, it’s essential to educate yourself about drilling safety before you pick up this power tool, or even consider buying your first drill for that matter.
More than 2,500 people are admitted to the hospital every year as a result of sustaining major injuries while drilling.
We don’t mean to make you apprehensive about picking up a drill. Rather, we want to help you know the possible harm that can arise from the use of portable drills so that you can use it safely and effectively.
If you want to drill holes in the required surface with zero risk of injury, read through the following article carefully.
In this guide on drilling safety, we cover the following aspects of these electric tools.
- The hazards of drilling
- Safety gear required for drilling
- Drilling safety tips and tricks
Let’s get started with Drilling Safety 101.
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- 1 What Are Some of the Hazard of Drilling?
- 2 What Safety Gear Do You Need?
- 3 Drilling Safety Tips and Tricks
- 4 Avoiding Electric Hazards
- 5 Other Safety Considerations Using a Power Drill
- 6 End Note
What Are Some of the Hazard of Drilling?
Understanding what makes drilling a potentially hazardous activity can help you stay more cautious when using a portable drill or working around a fellow worker using one.
Here is a quick overview of some of the most common hazards of drilling:
- Exposed moving parts
- Electric hazard
- Projectiles and sharp objects
- Heat and dust resulting from drilling
- Impact and cutting
Drilling might seem like a simple task, but even a minor mistake can make it a lethal one.
It is for this reason that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers to train their employees on how to use, maintain, and safely handle power drills.
Let’s take a more detailed look into the hazards of drilling so you can steer clear of accidents at all times.
Kickback injuries are extremely common amongst novice users.
As the name suggests, these injuries occur when the drill head pushes back on the machine upon coming in contact with a hard surface. If your handheld drill tends to jam frequently, it has a higher risk of kickback injuries.
Drilling into concrete can expose you to silica dust from sand. Silica dust is basically powdered rock that can cause great damage to your lungs if inhaled.
Drilling into strong surfaces such as metal and concrete generates heat in the localized area. Similarly, the drill itself usually gets very hot when used for a relatively long time. This can cause minor burns if you accidentally touch the drill head, bit, or the area near the holes created.
Structural instability is a major hazard of drilling. Potentially weak spots in the walls or surfaces that have become unstable due to grinding and other constructional work not only make it challenging to drill, but can also lead to untoward accidents if drilled.
Another danger of drilling is not knowing what lies beneath the surface. For example, electrical wiring or plumbing lines in a wall or underground can cause serious damages as soon as they come in contact with the drill bit.
What Safety Gear Do You Need?
Whether you are drilling on a large construction project or merely trying to drill a hole for hanging a home décor item, the following items are a must-have:
- Protective eyewear
- Face mask
Protective glasses shield your eyes from small bits and pieces of cutting as they fly off from the drill.
The gloves are necessary for maintaining a steady grip on the tool. They also reduce the discomfort that would otherwise arise from the vibrations. Plus, they protect your hands from the heat generated during drilling too.
A face mask ensures that you don’t inhale the potentially harmful dust formed during the process by filtering out the air you breathe.
This is the basic safety gear required when using a portable drill of any type. You might notice that some projects involving heavy-duty work necessitate the use of a more high powered drill. In that case, you must use the following safety gear in addition to the items listed above.
- Appropriate footwear
- Protective clothing
- Hearing protection
Drilling Safety Tips and Tricks
Now that you are aware of the hazards of drilling and the safety gear required to protect you from the same, let’s look at some drilling safety tips and tricks.
The following measures will help you minimize the risk of accidents by addressing the root cause of the danger.
Avoid baggy clothing
Loose sleeves and untied hair can be a real menace when using a power drill. This is because the cordless drill spinning at an incredibly fast rate will easily catch any loose object and entangle it severely.
Therefore, remove all jewelry items (rings, bracelets, and even necklaces) and tie your hair neatly at the back. Also, avoid wearing loose clothes with full sleeves.
Secure the Surface to Be Drilled
If operating a drill on free form objects such as wood blocks or concrete slabs, secure the surface before you begin working.
If the workpiece shifts while drilling, it will not only deviate the drill head from its desired path but can harm you as well. To avoid this problem, secure the surface with a vice or clamp the slab down before drilling.
Drill Pilot Holes
To avoid slippage when drilling, drill pilot holes in a piece of wood. This helps reduce the amount of pressure you need to put on the drill and also ensures that your final holes are straighter.
Use the Proper Drill Bit
To select the right bit for the purpose, check the manufacturer’s instructions in the user manual. The size of the drill and the surface being drilled into are the two main factors that you need to consider when choosing a drill bit.
Alternatively, make sure that it is properly seated and secured in the chuck before you turn on the switch.
Using the wrong drill bit leads to a bad job. Plus, it requires the use of excessive force when operating the machine, and can ultimately damage it over time.
Drill bits can become clogged as they pierce through materials such as metal and wood. Some drills have a reversing torque feature to counteract this issue.
To avoid this problem, immediately (but gently) remove the drill when you feel a block in its path and thoroughly clean the blockage before proceeding.
Avoiding Electric Hazards
Follow the tips below to minimize the risk of electric shocks when operating a power drill.
- Make sure there are no exposed wires, loose connections, or breaks in the electric lines
- If the drill is not double insulated, check for the ground wire and make sure the third prong is intact
- Do not use extension cords that have any bare wires or frayed insulation
- Ensure that the drill is compatible for use with the given electrical circuit by matching the power and current ratings
- Do not carry the drill by the cord
- When disconnecting the drill from the power socket, pull by the plug and not the cord
- Keep all wires away from the drilling surface
- Never use power drills in damp condition or wet location unless approved by the manufacturer
Other Safety Considerations Using a Power Drill
- Always use a brush for cleaning chips – never do so with your bare hands even if the machine is unplugged
- Never make adjustments while the drill is running
- Keep the work station free of any unnecessary items
- Before operating, double-check to see if any chuck keys and wrenches are still attached
- When using a drill for the first time, take time to give it a test run and familiarize yourself with its performance before operating on the required surface
When it comes to drilling, a little knowledge goes a long way not only in prolonging the life of your tools, but also protecting you from untoward incidents.
Hopefully, this guide on drilling safety would have given you an accurate idea of the possible hazards of drilling and how to prevent them.
In the end, remember to read the user’s manual thoroughly as it contains all the information you need about using the tool safely and successfully.Last updated on: