Construction Safety: Using, Handling and Maintaining Jackhammers

Date Posted
George Davis

Jackhammers are designed to break asphalt, concrete and rocks. They come either in electric or pneumatic models of 60 or 90 lb. weights. Without proper training and personal protective equipment (PPE), workers can easily injure their foot and other parts of their body while operating this tool.

Here are safety guidelines to follow when inspecting, using and maintaining jackhammers:

  • Always wear proper PPE which may consist of eye protection; long-sleeved clothing; sturdy, full length pants; steel-toed boots or shoes; hearing protection; and safety gloves.

  • Workers and their employer must know how to operate the supply compressor.

  • You must place the compressor as far as possible from the work area to reduce the level of noise.

  • Regularly inspect the jackhammer and other tools needed for any defect or damage. Check if all components are complete, securely in place (or tightened) and in good condition. Make sure to do this, too, before every shift or start of operations.

  • Check air hoses for breaks, cracks, and worn or damaged couplings.

  • Ensure that the rating of the hose is sufficient for the job intended.

  • Inspect the electrical cord for frays, wear and other signs of damage.

  • Workers must sling the electrical cord on their shoulder to prevent its accidental swerving which can cause electrocution.

  • Always use the proper weight of the jackhammer for the job. Use a lighter jackhammer for the job as much as possible.

  • Always lift the tool (jackhammer) properly by using the legs. This helps you avoid back strain or injury.

  • Use the proper point for the material to be broken. Remember to use rock point for rock, spade point for asphalt, and chisel point for concrete. Never use a broken or cracked point.

  • When moving the jackhammer from place to place during operation, place your hand between the handle and the operating lever.

  • Always operate the tool at a slight angle with it leaning back towards you. This way, you prevent the point from getting stuck in the material and the tool from getting out of control.

  • Shut off the air supply and relieve pressure from the supply hose before changing tool points. Do the same when leaving the jackhammer unattended.

  • Immediately remove defective or malfunctioning jackhammers and other tools until they are properly repaired.

  • Barricade the work area as much as possible to keep spectators and untrained personnel from getting exposed to the hazards of jackhammer operations.

Related Links:

Electrical Safety for Construction Site Workers – Part 1

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Safety in Trenches or Excavations: Eliminating Hazards and Responding to Emergencies

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