Jackhammers and Chipping Concrete

Originally published 04/11/2017

It is sometimes necessary in bridge and highway repair, to remove small amounts of concrete. Compact pneumatic chipping hammers (jackhammers) are often used to do the job. These compact battering rams pack a lot of punch, and they can be dangerous if not used properly. Here are some common-sense tips provided by tool manufacturers.

Dress Appropriately to Protect Yourself

  • Everyone in the area should always wear impact-resistant eye protection.
  • Depending on the situation, wear a facemask or respirator.
  • Wear a hardhat, especially if there is a risk from falling objects.
  • Wear adequate clothing that fits properly.
  • Wear proper hearing protection.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands and steel-tipped boots to protect your feet.
  • Set up screens to prevent nearby workers from being struck by flying fragments.

Inspect the Jackhammer and Tools Before Use

  • Carefully inspect the jackhammer for damage and make sure all controls and safety interlocks work properly.
  • Inspect air hose connections at the air compressor and the jackhammer for cracks, worn threads and loose couplings.
  • Inspect the safety clip or tool retainer for proper operation. This prevents the chisel/tool from being unintentionally shot from the barrel.
  • Check the chisel/tool for tightness of fit and excessive wear. Repair or replace when required, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Beware of Air Under Pressure

  • Never engage in horseplay with compressed air – it’s dangerous!
  • Always disconnect the tool when it is not in use or when you are changing accessories.
  • Never exceed the tool’s designated operating pressure.

Proceed With Caution

  • Always keep both hands on the tool.
  • Watch for excess lengths of the air hose, which can cause you to trip.
  • Never operate the tool without the chisel against the work surface.
  • Discontinue use if numbness, tingling, pain, or flushing of the skin occurs.
  • Prevent back injuries by using your leg muscles to lift the jackhammer into position.
  • Allow the tool to do the work by using a grip light enough to maintain control.
  • Always follow any special manufacturer instructions.

Work smart and work safe when using jackhammers or any other equipment on the jobsite.

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