Guarding of drill rigs
Although we are just coming out of recession, a large number of companies are still investing in training in drilling and sawing. In my opinion, we now have some of the most trained and skilled workers on construction sites in recent years. Health and safety is the top priority on construction sites by the construction management, drilling and sawing management and the operators themselves, and the British drilling companies have an excellent safety record.
It has come to light in Great Britain that Health and Safety Executive wants us to guard all diamond drilling rigs and cut the electrical supply to the motor if the guard is removed or opened to gain access to the drill. However, they also say we can allow the drill to turn slowly if the front of the guard was opened.
That seems to contradict the motor being disabled if the guard is opened. The Association have pointed out that all our drilling rigs meet European mechanical directive and CE regulations. Because not all world manufactures of drilling rigs supply guards under CE regulations, we are not allowed to modify the rigs as these would invalidate manufacturer’s warranty. We also pointed out the how unpractical guarding the rigs would be drilling up to tight walls, corners, between pipes etc.
Another problem would be for the operator to confirm that he has a good flow of water if the guard was not made of a clear, transparent material. The guard would have to contract in and out with the drill many times to constantly keep the drill guarded.
As for guard size, would we have to have a different guard for each size of drill that is from 25mm to 1m in diameter? If so, who would have the authority to change the guard for each operation, and who would check it to see if it was fitted correctly?
The Association has looked into this problem and come to an agreement with British manufacturers that trailer rigs will conform to having a guard fitted that would disconnect power to the motor if it is removed or opened at the front to gain access to the drill. The Health and Safety Executive has agreed with and approved this concept.
On the subject of hand drills, diamond and tungsten twist drills, the Executive thought that it was unnecessary to have a guard. In my 45 years in the trade, I have never heard of a person being hurt by the drill. However, I have heard of a person injured by a drilling rig spinning around the drill when it was not fixed in place correctly.
The British Drilling and Sawing Association is putting forward an argument that this action is not necessary. We would like to know if any other country or association has had similar problems. If so, please report it to the IACDS at email@example.com, as I intend to raise the subject at the meeting in Salzburg on Monday 26 April 2010. I would not like to see this become a world problem or directive.
Everybody is welcome to attend the meeting in Salzburg.
Best regards, Peter White