Getting to grips with your SDS Max Drill

Many manual labour professions are high-risk when it comes to safety, and much of the time, that risk stems from the tools involved and their misuse. As a consequence, it’s essential that workers have a strong understanding of the tools they’re going to use.

Some tools, like the hand-held circular saw, present a clear and obvious safety concern. But it’s often the more everyday tools that end up catching workers and DIYers unawares.

What is an SDS Max and how does it work?

An SDS max drill is a specialised kind of hammer drill that’s built for dealing with tough materials. Like other kinds of hammer drill, it moves back and forth as well as round and round. This makes for more precise and fast drilling.

SDS stands for ‘Slotted Drive System’. This refers to the system of slots and ball bearings that hold the bit in position. This arrangement allows the hammer mechanism to work like a piston, smashing the bill backways and forwards with much greater force than a traditional hammer drill can muster.

What are the risks?

Tools of this kind have a heavyweight moving back and forwards at a considerable speed. This generates a huge amount of vibration, which the operator will need to absorb. Over the long-term, the effect of absorbing all of this vibration can lead to nerve disorders and HAVS (that’s ‘hand-arm vibration syndrome’).

Over time, these vibrations can have a seriously deleterious effect on your overall health, and lead to a significant reduction in your quality of life when you come to retire. You might find that you have difficulty picking things up or that you experience tingling and numbness in your fingers which might interfere with your sleep.

While it’s possible to claim compensation for damage of this kind, especially if your employer hasn’t taken adequate steps to provide a safe working environment, you will struggle to undo the damage once it’s been inflicted. It’s better to protect your body than to seek to repair it later. But exactly how might we do that?

How to reduce risk of injury

The longer you use the tool, the more risk you’re taking on. Furthermore, it is important to remember that the tighter the grip, the more vibrations that are transferred through your body – many power drills, such as the SDS Max are now designed so that the user does not need to grip the tool that hard to control it thus minimising the risks.

As a rule, you should be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment whenever you operate machinery of this kind. This means goggles, which will prevent fragments from flying up into your eyes, and gloves, which will protect your fingers and reduce the stress on your joints. You might also look into stabilising structures, like tripods.