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Exposure to emissions, trip hazards, vibration and noise continues to create prevalent health concerns for professionals in the construction trades. Jobsite equipment such as gas or power-corded cut-off saws, breakers and generators can be major offenders. 

While power tools have transitioned largely to cordless solutions, leading to considerable benefits, the same has not been able to be said, historically, about light equipment—the very equipment that is a major offender of emissions, vibration and noise hazards on jobsites. Until now. Newly advanced cordless technology can free jobsites from the limitations of gasoline and power-cord light equipment. 

Cordless light equipment offers many benefits, including the ability to eliminate the following common hazards on the jobsite.

Emissions

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 800 construction workers die in the United States every year while on the job. OSHA reports that many of these deaths happen when workers breathe in harmful chemicals, such as carbon monoxide (CO). In fact, CO poisoning is the number-one cause of these deaths from breathing in harmful chemicals. The danger of CO is that workers can’t smell, see or taste it—and it can kill them in minutes. 

Gasoline-powered tools, such as concrete-cutting saws (walk-behind and handheld), when used in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces, put users at risk of CO poisoning. This gas can rapidly accumulate, even in areas that appear to be well-ventilated, and can build up to dangerous or fatal concentrations within minutes. 

As reported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a plumber using a gasoline-powered concrete saw in a basement suffered from CO poisoning even though the doors and windows were open, and a cooling fan was in place. Additionally, an OSHA report shared that two workers died while using a wet cut-off saw to cut a hole in a basement wall for a new window. Each felt ill, tried to move to fresh air, but collapsed before they could get there. These examples demonstrate how real the dangers of carbon monoxide can be. But these deaths can be prevented.
With a combination of advanced motors, electronics and batteries, cordless technology can altogether eliminate gas engines—thus eradicating the fumes that they create. This provides construction trade workers with a less hazardous environment because it mitigates their exposure to environmental contaminants found in common gas equipment. 

Outside of the dangers of CO inhalation, gas management remains another major concern when using gas equipment. To prevent fires, hazardous liquids require special precautions for storage, handling and use. Mandatory regulations have been developed by OSHA. These regulations detail a long list of safety procedures and storage necessities that must be present on construction sites where chemicals like gas are present (29 CFR 1926.152). 
Cordless light equipment is also a major advantage for a company’s bottom line. In addition to eliminating CO emissions, the costs associated with gas management (as well as repairs on engines and engine components) are also removed. 

Trip Hazards

OSHA classifies slips, trips and falls as leading causes of death in the workplace. On construction sites, power cords, pneumatic hoses and extension cords can often be seen strewn across walkways, creating obstacles that lead to trips. Per the OSHA general duty clause, employers are charged with providing a safe worksite, which includes providing clear walking-working surfaces; specifically, walkways and similar locations shall be kept clear of cords as required by §1926.416(b)(2). Battery-powered light equipment reduces trip hazards on construction sites by eliminating cords and hoses altogether. 

Vibration and Noise

Ergonomic injuries, including work-related musculoskeletal disorders and hearing loss are, unfortunately, common in the construction industry. Generally, these are the result of workers having long duration or repeated exposures to vibration and hazardous noise. Vibration injuries, such as Raynaud’s disease (vibration-induced white fingers) can lead to numbness and/or color changes in the skin and, in severe cases, tissue damage.

Cordless technology eliminates the power cords common to AC-powered light equipment that are frequent culprits of vibration, such as 60-pound to 90-pound breakers. The new MX FUEL™ Breaker from Milwaukee® Tool, for example, is designed with a new mechanism to further mitigate the overall vibrational impact on users’ bodies. The design separates the head of the unit from the striking mechanism, further separating the user from the point of impact.

Additionally, the most recent results from a NIOSH database study indicate that construction workers have the highest prevalence of hearing loss of any industry, outside of mining. This hearing loss continues to increase with age. 

Cut-off saws, generators and tow-behind lights commonly create more noise onsite due to their engines. By eliminating those gas engines, the overall noise on the jobsite generated by equipment like this is drastically reduced.

The cordless revolution is just beginning for the light equipment market. Continued investments in cordless technology are now unlocking the capability to eliminate the emissions and reduce the noise, vibration, gas maintenance and overall risks associated with current gas and power-corded light equipment—profoundly impacting contractors’ safety 
and productivity. 

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