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Voltimum - Power tool safety: Beware hidden dangers

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When installing electrical equipment and wiring, electricians cut into many different materials using a variety of drills, angle grinders, saws and multi-tools. Each time, they generate dust – and none of it should ever be thought of as harmless.

We would all avoid breathing in something like asbestos, if we knew it was there, but danger lurks in many everyday materials. For instance, concrete, stone, brick and slate all release silica dust, which can irreversibly damage health and shorten lives.

Respiratory diseases caused by unhealthy working environments kill around 12,000 people each year in the UK, according to a 2017 HSE report. They include conditions such as chronic bronchitis, mesothelioma and even cancer. Today, a staggering total of 147,000 people suffer from breathing or lung problems caused by or worsened by work – and about 18,000 new cases are added annually.

But don’t imagine that a dust mask is the answer. A PPE (personal protective equipment) approach should be the last resort – used only after the better safety options have been exhausted.

If dust can’t be avoided, it should be removed close to its point of origin using a vacuum cleaning system with the appropriate filtration level. Bosch has developed specialised cleaners for every situation, often building in automatic filter cleaning and other convenience features. Cleaners in the Bosch Click & Clean range can be directly connected to compatible power tools for immediate dust removal.

Some tools, like the Bosch GBH 18 V-26(F) Professional Rotary Hammer Drill, can even be fitted with an integral dust extractor. This compact unit becomes part of the tool, simply slotting into place when needed. Bosch solutions also include hollow drill bits, through which dust can be extracted, and angle grinder dust extraction guards with built-in vacuum cleaner outlets.

A recent focus group with electricians, conducted by Bosch found that dust is a hot topic. When asked what features could make their lives easier, dust collection on cordless tools was a key finding.



Looking at the types of tasks they have to complete, it’s clear that electricians are amongst the two million people in Britain estimated by HSE to be at risk from hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAV). Nerve damage builds up slowly but eventually becomes permanent and leaves sufferers unable to work. Vibration white finger and carpal tunnel syndrome, which are conditions related to HAV, were cited in 695 new Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit claims in 2016.

Effects on power tool users depend on how strong the vibrations are and how long they are exposed to them. The maximum length of time for which a particular tool may be operated safely each day can be worked out with a useful calculator on HSE’s website.

Reducing vibration, to extend that safe time, has been a key design aim for Bosch. Vibrations can be dampened – and comfort improved – through anti-vibration handles. The Bosch rotary hammer is one of a number of Bosch tools featuring advanced Vibration Control.


Unseen obstacles

When a drill bit, grinding disc or saw blade is jammed by something hidden in the work material, rotation instantly transfers to the tool itself. This is known as ‘kickback’. It can result in arms being twisted, torn and broken. Even worse, it may redirect the tool’s cutting edge onto the user.

Before working on any material, scanning it for unseen obstacles like nails, pipes and cables is a good precaution. Even so, there may still be deeply concealed obstructions and resistant materials. For immediate protection, Bosch offers Electronic Rotation Control (ERC), or KickBack Control, whose acceleration sensors trigger an instant power shutdown when any abrupt blockage is detected.

So far, 25 Bosch Professional Power tools have been equipped in this way. Examples include the rotary hammer already described, as well as the GSR 18 V-60 Professional FlexiClick Drill Driver and the GWS 18 V-125 SC Professional Angle Grinder.


Safeguard your greatest assets

Professional electricians should never forget that their health is their capital – so it needs to be protected. Employers supplying teams with power tools should also take care. Their workers are their greatest asset and they are legally responsible for safeguarding them from all of the hazards highlighted here.

For more information visit: www.bosch-professional.co.uk

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An electrician using power tools faces daily health risks which can be overlooked or underestimated. Eric Streuli of Bosch brings these risks out into the open and explains how tool design and technology can make the trade professional’s life safer without slowing them down.
health & safety, power tools, Bosch power tools, Bosch, Bosch Professional, angle grinfer, rotary hammer, hammer
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