The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health funded two studies through the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and the University of California, Berkeley to identify ways to reduce worker exposure to silica dust. One study used a robotic system to measure productivity and silica dust, handle vibration and noise exposures from electric and pneumatic drills. According to the study the electric drill performed best in regards to exposure to dust and would recommend its use over pneumatic drills.
The second study found the use of sharp carbide-tipped bits produced less dust, noise, and hand vibration when drilling into concrete. The use of a dull bit showed an increase in both work time and exposure, in comparison. Contractors and construction workers can check the condition of a bit by monitoring wear-related changes; the carbide-tip most associated with reduced productivity were reduced bit-tip width and rounding of the tip shoulders.Read More