Handheld and stand-mounted drills, including impact and rotary hammer drills are used to drill holes in concrete, masonry and other silica-containing materials. This can generate respirable crystalline silica dust. When inhaled over time, the small particles of silica can irreversibly damage the lungs.
Exposure controls needed in accordance with Appendix 4 of the Managing respirable crystalline silica in construction and manufacturing of construction elements code of practice 2022 (PDF, 1.71 MB) (the Code) when using handheld and stand-mounted drills are explained below.
Step 1: Use suitable engineering controls
Engineering control options (one of the following two controls must be used):
- Commercially available shroud or cowling with a tool mounted HEPA filtered dust collector.
- Commercially available shroud or cowling with an on-tool capture hood connected to a dust extractor/vacuum that meets or exceeds the minimum air flow requirements recommended by the tool manufacturer and is rated to either M-Class or H-Class.
Note: Use a M or H class vacuum when cleaning drilling holes.
Dust collection systems
Using a shroud or cowling connected to a dust collection system will control exposure to respirable crystalline silica when using handheld or stand-mounted drills to drill into concrete and other silica-containing materials.
Commercially available dust collection systems come in a variety of designs that include a dust collection device (shroud or cowling), vacuum, hose, filter and filter-cleaning mechanism. These systems typically integrate into the tools or as add-on systems.
The dust collection system must be equipped with a:
- shroud or cowling sized to fit around the drill bit
- dust collector rated to provide the airflow recommended by the tool manufacturer or greater and either:
- a tool mounted HEPA-filtered dust collector
- an on-tool capture hood connected to a dust extraction system rated to either M or H-Class in accordance with AS60335.2.69.
The drill and vacuum dust collection system must be operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to minimise dust emissions.
- Keep the vacuum hose clear and free of debris, kinks and tight bends.
- Activate non-automatic filter-cleaning mechanisms as needed to reduce dust build-up on the filter.
- Change vacuum-collection bags as needed.
- Set a schedule for filter cleaning and maintenance.
- Avoid exposure to dust when changing vacuum bags and cleaning or replacing air filters.
- Clean the dust and debris from the drilled holes—a HEPA-filtered vacuum system must be used to capture the dust.
Step 2: Select appropriate respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
RPE is not required for the use of handheld drills or stand mounted drills.