Concrete Cutting Safety

Nearly every construction project involves some form of cutting concrete or core boring. While cutting concrete may seem fairly simple and straightforward, in actual practice there are several considerations to keep in mind to have a safe and successful concrete cutting or boring project.

Fist, you must know that concrete dust is potentially damaging to the lung sinuses and eyes. Concrete dust also becomes corrosive and abrasive and may damage surrounding finish.

Dust control becomes an important consideration when cutting concrete either with a saw or a drill or core boring bit. The two most common dust control methods are wet cutting where the dust is collected in the cooling water and pneumatic devices that pull the dust away in an air stream.

When using a diamond cutting blade or other abrasive disk cutting device such as concrete saw, the water also serves to lubricate and cool the cutting tools. Consideration must me made to handle the spillage of cooling water on to the surface being cut. Drainage must be provided or a vacuum system like a wet vac can be used to control the spread of the cooling water.

When using electric powered tools, adequate grounding, insulation and appropriate ground fault protection must be provided. Standing in a puddle of water while operating and electric tool can be fatal if proper protections are not in place.

An extra precaution must be added when using core drilling machine. Many of these machines rely on suction to keep the bas in place during the drilling operation. The friction of the base suctioned against the floor provides the resistance to rotation while drilling.

Two competing factors come in to play during the lock down operation. The slicker the floor, the better the suction seal will be. However, there will be less resistance to rotation due to friction from the slick floor. Especially if the concrete is wet. Also, while a rough floor may provide more friction, the roughness will not allow a strong vacuum seal against the floor.

In either case the vacuum seal is not completely reliable and may fail during the drilling operation. The operator must be keenly aware of the possibility that the machine base my rotate violently without warning. The operator must keep his body out of the possible rotation path of the machine bas at all times during a core drilling operation.

A more reliable method of securing the machine is to set a simple concrete anchor through the base in addition to the vacuum seal. Most machines have a provision for such an anchor and the small hole required for the anchor is easily repaired in the concrete floor.

When making any kind of cut in concrete be it a straight line cut with a concrete saw or making a round hole with a core drill, you must also consider what is hidden in the concrete.

Not only will the concrete contain re bar and rocks that can snag the cutting tool, but often plumbing lines and electrical conduit are often buried in the concrete. And they will likely not be exactly where the drawings show them to be.

Before any concrete cutting operation take care to locate as precisely as possible any pipes or conduit that may be buried in the concrete.

A cutting blade will slice through a conduit with ease often shorting the wires together on the blade. However, care must be taken that the operator does not become the ground path instead of the conduit or other wires. If possible, de energize any power lines that may be in the vicinity of the cutting or drilling operation.

Concrete cutting requires sharp tools, quality equipment in good repair, a good supply of cooling water and a skilled operator. Operating concrete cutting equipment can be simple and safe, but the operator must be familiar with the potential hazards and know all the functions of the equipment he is operating.

Help choosing the For right cutting tools and equipment for concrete cutting you next project, see Industrial the Products and Equipment .