How to safely operate rotary tools

Rotary tools can cause a variety of work injuries and work-related health problems. They should therefore, be operated by following relevant manufacturer instructions, the training provided and safety precautions.

Accidents at work

Health and safety laws make it necessary for employers to prevent employees from being injured at work. In the case of rotary tools, this means they are required to:

  • Inform workers of potential risks
  • Reduce risks of work injuries to a minimum
  • Provide necessary PPE (personal protection equipment)
  • Define and enforce safe working procedures
  • Maintain equipment regularly

Workers should be trained and instructed in the safe use of rotary tools, as well as being instructed with regards to job specific safety procedures and precautions. Having been instructed, workers are required to assist in the prevention of work-related injuries and conditions by following the provided instructions, as well as wearing the provided PPE.

Hand/ arm vibration syndrome

Workers using rotary tools may be at risk of developing vibration white finger or repetitive strain injuries if using such tools for prolonged periods of time. According to Health & Safety Executive information, using a rotary tool for just one hour a day places workers at a medium risk of developing these work-related conditions. Whereas employees using tools of this type for four or more hours each day are at a high risk. Regular break periods must therefore be allowed. It may also be necessary to monitor employees’ health.

Work-related respiratory disease

Rotary tools used for boring and polishing in the construction industry also carry a risk of causing industrial respiratory problems like silicosis, a serious lung disease, for instance. This illness is caused by airborne RCS (respirable crystalline silica). Invisible under normal light, RCS dust can reach the deepest sections of the lung and may cause permanent disability or death. Breathing masks and equipment must therefore, be made available to, and be worn by, workers. In addition, dust emissions must be reduced by use of water suppression. More detailed information on the safe use of rotary tools can be found in the relevant HSE information sheet (

Construction industry claims

If you were diagnosed with an industrial illness during the past 36 months and the cause of your conditions is the responsibility of someone else (your employer or colleagues), you may be entitled to industrial injury compensation. Call the freephone number of Accident Advice Helpline to learn more about when and how to claim for compensation.

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