Drilling Safety | 5 Important Diamond Core Drilling Safety Tips

July 26, 2022

So, what actually is diamond drilling?

Diamond drilling is a type of core drilling that involves using diamond-tipped drill bits to cut through various tough surfaces and materials. Due to their unique molecular structure, diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance on the planet, which means that they can break through pretty much any surface required. This extreme strength makes them a particular popular choice for drilling and cutting in the construction industry. 

Diamond drills typically consist of a hollow tube with a diamond-tipped drill bit on the end. The hollow area to the drill is particularly important because it allows for water to be pumped through to cool the device and help lubricate it. The combination of the vibrations and the diamonds wearing away at the hard materials can create a lot of friction, so the usage of water is key to ensuring that heat production is kept to a minimum to ensure the safety of yourself and your team.

Which materials can Diamond drill through?

Some of the materials that diamond drilling can be used on include: stone, concrete, slate, rock, brick, asphalt, masonry and more. However, whilst diamonds can cut through anything, diamond drilling is not suitable for all materials. Materials such as soft wood and plastics, metal and plaster are all much too soft for this process, and another form of drilling would suit them better. 

Diamond drilling can be used on a variety of different projects large and small where precise holes in hard materials are required. This may be to make space for plumbing, wires, or other services required in construction. Some of the benefits include the precision of the cuts made, reduced noise output in comparison to other drilling techniques, speedier drilling process and less dust due to use of water in the process. 

Is Diamond drilling dangerous?

However, despite the numerous benefits of using this drilling method to cut through your tough surfaces, diamond drilling can be dangerous if improperly operated. Failing to follow safety regulations could result in serious injury to the operator or another member of the construction team, so it’s important to take the time and care to follow the guidelines. 

Whilst we’d urge you to look at the individual safety instructions for the drill that you’re operating, we’re also here to provide five of our top safety tips for diamond core drilling.

#1 Check that the area is prepared for drilling 

Diamond core drilling safety tips: check the area

Before jumping right in with your drill, it’s important to know that it’s actually safe to drill into the area. Could there be any live electric wires underneath the surface? Or perhaps any plumbing pipes hiding? Drilling into these with no prior knowledge of them could pose a serious safety threat to the operator of the drill, so be sure to find out what’s underneath the surface before starting to work. This can often be found on blueprints or via scanning or imaging, so take the time to have a good look beforehand. Something else to consider is what’s above you. If there’s anything that could fall or cause excessive debris then this could pose a safety hazard. 

Take the time to map, survey and sample the area as per typical construction guidelines to ensure that you’re not drilling into anything that might result in a serious accident or cause structural damage to the area you’re working on. Any potentially dangerous areas should be carefully mapped out and made clear to everyone working on the site to ensure that everyone is safe. 

#2 Protect yourself and your team with the correct clothing

Diamond core drilling safety tips: protect yourself

This might seem like an obvious one for anyone working in the construction industry, but it’s always good to have a reminder of the correct safety gear. It’s also worth noting that these are our recommendations, so continue to check the regulatory protective gear requirements if you’re unsure. 

No loose clothing - Avoid loose clothing at all costs, as this is at high risk of getting caught in moving machinery. 

No jewellery - Similar to loose clothing, jewellery can get trapped in machinery and pose a serious safety risk.

Hard hat - Hard hats are essential for protecting your head from any falling debris that may occur on a busy construction site. Whilst we always recommend checking your surroundings prior to drilling to reduce the amount of debris falling, it’s best to prioritise your safety with a hard hat. 

Steel toe boots - Like the classic hard hat, steel toed shoes are an essential for any construction site. These can protect your feet from any number of accidents including anything falling on them, cutting hazards during drilling, and electrical hazards that may pose a threat on site. 

Respiratory protection - Whilst the water used in diamond drilling keeps dust to a minimum, respiratory protection is certainly recommended. Proper respiratory protection will ensure that your lungs aren’t exposed to harmful substances such as crystalline silica, which can cause long term damage after repeated exposure. 

Safety glasses - Wearing safety glasses will protect your eyes from any dust or debris, and help with visibility to ensure you’re able to continue to operate the drill safely. 

High visibility clothing - Drilling hard materials can be dangerous without the proper precautions. Ensure that everyone on site has high-visibility clothing on so they can be easily spotted. 

Hearing protection - Despite being a quieter drilling method, diamond drilling does still produce noise. We’d recommend wearing regulatory hearing protection to prevent tinnitus or longer term damage to the inner ear, which can be common amongst those working in construction due to repeated exposure to loud noises. 

Protective gloves - Remember that diamond drill tips can cut through pretty much any material - so you want to protect your hands! Heavy-duty gloves should not only do this but also ensure that you’ve got a solid grip on the drill whilst operating it.

#3 Check that your tools are ready for the job 

Only check your diamond drill when it is turned off and unplugged, then check the following to see if your drill is ready to go:

Is there any obvious damage to the drill? This could include missing parts, breaks or general wear that could impact your safety or the accuracy of the drilling procedure. 

Is there any damage to your plug or power cord? This could include exposed wires or damaged or worn wire casing. 

Are you using the right drill bit for the job? Different drill bits suit different jobs - check that the drill bit you’re using is suitable for the surface you’re cutting into in terms of shape, size and other properties. Diamond drilling is known for its precise cuts, but the correct size drill bits must be used to achieve this. 

Is it sharp enough? Using blunt or worn drill bits will affect the accuracy of your work and can occasionally cause slippages which may lead to serious accidents.

Know your tools. Check that yourself and other members of your team know where the emergency stop buttons are on the diamond drill. In case of any accidents these will be vital, so be sure to check this before starting the process.

#4 Careful operation of the drill 

Once you’ve done all of the required checks, it’s time to start drilling. However, you must continue to ensure that you’re following the proper safety procedures throughout the drilling process to achieve the precise cuts required for the job. Look at the exact specifications and instructions for the drill you’re using to check that the speed and feed rates are optimised to suit the machinery and the job.

Water plays a major role in diamond drilling. Correct water usage will help to cool and lubricate the blade down when friction occurs, making it a key safety element of the diamond drilling process. Without the usage of water, tools can overheat and become damaged, which can impact the accuracy of your cut. Water can also reduce the amount of dust produced from the process, which is important for tidiness and the respiratory health of yourself and your team. 

Finally, whilst this may seem obvious, be sure to take your time when operating the drill. This is a heavy-duty construction tool, so to achieve the results you want whilst still following proper safety procedures it’s best to go slowly. 

#5 Proper cleaning and maintenance 

Diamond core drilling safety tips: proper cleaning

Once you’re finished drilling, it’s important to clean the area and take care of your drill bit. Whilst the usage of water during drilling will have reduced the amount of dust produced, it is likely that some will remain. It’s important to make sure that this is cleaned - particularly in any indoor areas - as the dust can be extremely harmful to the lungs.

Many grinding machines come with a vacuum function, but any industrial level vacuum will help you clear the dust. We’d also recommend giving the area a final wash down with water just to minimise any remaining mess. 

Finally, you want to ensure proper maintenance of your diamond drill bit so that it will maintain its power. So, take care to make sure that your drill bit is properly cooled, remains sharp and is kept away from moisture to avoid rusting. 

Safety first when it comes to diamond drilling

We hope that you’ve found our five top safety tips for diamond core drilling helpful. Whilst these are here as a guideline, we’d always recommend checking the specific instructions for your tool before operation.

Remember that this is a dangerous piece of machinery - if you’re unsure about operation, speak to the professionals.