There may be a way for construction workers to reduce some wear and tear on their bodies. A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkley found that electric drills are much safer for workers to use than pneumatic drills.
Drills produce roughly the same results
The researchers used both types of drill to cut three 100 mm holes into cured concrete blocks. They found the drills had a similar level of effectiveness. However, the way the drills affect your body is much different.
In the study, both drills threw off silica dust, and both at levels that are higher than the limit Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires. However, the electric drill threw off dust at 11 times the OSHA limit, while the pneumatic drill produced dust at 444 times the limit.
Silica dust can cause serious health issues
Inhaling silica dust can cause numerous health problems. It can lead to lung cancer or silicosis. Silicosis occurs when scar tissue builds up in your lungs from repeated exposure to silica dust. Symptoms may not appear for 20 years, or workers can experience accelerated or chronic silicosis. Both accelerated and chronic silicosis occur much sooner, from within 5 years or as soon as a few months with chronic silicosis.
Silicosis starts with shortness of breath and can lead to chest pain, fatigue and respiratory failure. Weight loss and weakness are also symptoms, particularly in cases of acute or accelerated silicosis. It is an incurable disease.
Pneumatic drills are louder
Pneumatic drills are also significantly louder than electric drills. This can lead to hearing loss for workers over time. A pneumatic drill vibrates much more than an electric drill. It vibrates five times higher, and this causes more wear on your body.
Injured workers have the right to compensation
If you were injured on the jobsite, you have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits should cover your medical bills, wages, rehabilitation and trips back and forth to the doctor. However, not all employers treat workers fairly. They may push you to return to work too early, underpay on benefits or not provide all the medical help you need. You do have the right to a full recovery, and you can hold your employer for failing to provide care.