How to Safely Use a Jackhammer

construction workers using jackhammers to break up concrete
••• Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Jackhammers are useful—but one of the most challenging to manage—tools in the construction industry. Jackhammers are used to demolish old concrete, remove pavement, and demolish many other surfaces in projects.

The jackhammer itself is heavy, so, only appropriate personnel should handle the tools to reduce the risk of accidents. Jackhammers have different tips and blades that should be installed depending on the type of job being performed. Let's go over the tips and tricks that will help you use the jackhammer safely and easier.

Pneumatics, Hydraulic, and Electric Jackhammers

The main types are pneumatic that performs by the high pressure of air from an air compressor. Hydraulic jackhammers operate by hydraulic energy from some fluid. The third kind is the electric jackhammers that function by electric power.

Using a Jackhammer

The following tips can be used when using either pneumatic or electrical jackhammers. Choose the right tool. The jackhammer type will depend on the type of work being carried out. There are heavy and medium capacity jackhammers to choose from. You will also need to choose the right type of hose. The hose selection depends on how far the equipment is located from the compressor, the pressure required by the tool, and the type of work being completed.

Be sure to locate the compressor in an open space to eliminate noise hazards. Use the jackhammer on open locations. If used in areas where there is not a lot of open space, wear proper hearing protection.

Use the right chisel and/or tip for the material to be broken. Use the rock point for rock, spade point for asphalt, and chisel point for concrete. Never use a broken or cracked point. The tool can be used as a crowbar to lever up and loosen the concrete.

Hold the jackhammer at a slight angle, towards you, so the possibility of getting stuck with the tip or chisel into the surface is minimized. It will also allow you to get better control and grip of the jackhammer to keep it from getting out of control. Do not jackhammer down beyond the depth of the cutting bit.

Safety With a Jackhammer

Using a jackhammer is a task that requires some special precautions to prevent injuries or work-related illness. Follow these recommendations to prevent accidents at work. Always move the jackhammer by using your legs to lift to avoid back strain or injuries. Use the right personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety boots, ear protection and face protection at a minimum. You can also use vibration-damping gloves when using the jackhammer. Workers should be rotated as possible to eliminate fatigue from workers that could lead to accidents at the job site.

Most of these tools are equipped with a safety device that prevents the tool from operating, in the absence of pressure or if it is not placed on a surface. To start the jackhammer push down against the surface firmly to start the tool. Other safety features include a locking mechanism on the drill bit and trigger control and automatic release.

Inspect the jackhammer and equipment regularly for defect or damage. Check that everything is in place and that all safety precautions are being followed. Do not forget about inspecting the hoses to the compressor too.

When leaving the jackhammer unattended shut off the air supply and relieve pressure from the supply hose before changing tool points.

If the jackhammer gets stuck, try to release it by moving it back and forth from side to side. If it's still stuck, install another bit into the jackhammer and try to release if by working at an angle.

When using an electric jackhammer, workers must locate the electrical cord on their shoulder to prevent accidental damages to the cord that can cause electrocution. Workers should also secure compressor hose ends to prevent whipping if an accidental cut or break happens. You should use a water spray control system to minimize airborne dust.