The Next Generation of Concrete Core Drills Will Bring Next Gen Safety Technology

The ever-changing field of power tool safety technology addresses one of the most dreaded: concrete core drilling.

Next Gen Concrete Core Drills and Next Gen Safety Technology
Milwaukee Tool Corp.

Standing between a construction worker and a hazard to prevent injuries, Safety Technology physically reduces a worker’s risk of injury with little to no change in their workflow. Unlike a seatbelt, where the operator must remember to put it on, the Safety Technology being designed and built into the next generation of power tools will protect workers whenever the equipment is running, without added thought.

Safety Technology falls within “Engineering Controls” in the Hierarchy of Controls issued by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

“Engineering controls are favored over administrative and personal protective equipment (PPE) for controlling existing worker exposures in the workplace because they are designed to remove the hazard at the source before it comes in contact with the worker. Well-designed engineering controls can be highly effective in protecting workers and typically be independent of worker interactions to provide this high level of protection.”

Hierarchy of Controls | NIOSH | CDC

Advances in Technology

New technologies such as machine sensors, mobile apps, predictive analytics, and more are part of Safety Technology. Recent examples designed to help protect construction workers include:

  • Noise Reduction. Every year, thousands of construction workers suffer hearing loss from excessive noise exposure on the job. Noise-induced hearing loss affects quality of life and increases the risk of injury. Some manufacturers, like Milwaukee Tool, conduct product sound power tests in fully isolated Hemi-Anechoic Sound Chambers. This investment in research allows power tool manufacturers like MILWAUKEE® to collect objective noise data to positively influence product design.
  • Self-Cleaning Vacuums. Some HEPA vacuums feature automatic filter cleaning mechanisms that make them Table 1 compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation on respirable crystalline silica dust. These filtration systems capture 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3 microns and do not require downtime to clean them.
  • Motion Stop. Grinders are among the most common tools involved in jobsite injuries. The safest way to set down a grinder is to bring the wheel to a stop, but this can take up to nine seconds for some grinders. For example, Milwaukee’s RAPID STOP™ braking technology can stop the accessory in less than three seconds after a finger is lifted from the trigger. 

Next Gen Concrete Core Drills and Next Gen Safety TechnologyMilwaukee Tool Corp.

Reducing Risks in Core Drilling

Not only do workers want to feel safe on the job, they also want to feel physically confident. This challenge comes in the job of core drilling. No matter how experienced a user is, the core drilling process is almost always dreaded. Rotary hammers and core drills can bind up when drilling through rebar or hard aggregate, causing the tool to rotate, and results in loss of control and potentially serious injuries. Out in the field, site supervisors have examples of handheld coring injuries, from broken wrists to wounds needing stitches.

Safety Technology helps protect workers so they can core with more confidence. Milwaukee’s MX FUEL™ Core Drill AUTOSTOP™ technology delivers a safer coring experience. It provides the user with maximum control and reduced kickback during bind-up situations. The Core Drill has engineered set points and will automatically stop running when thresholds are reached for a specific amount of time. The AUTOSTOP™ feature contains an internal gyroscope that monitors angular momentum and uses onboard sensors to remove power from the motor before it rotates more than 45 degrees. At that engineered limit, the equipment will no longer fight the user.

Crystalline silica dust exposure continues to be a threat to U.S. workers, especially those in construction. Silica can be created during applications like core drilling. In 2016, OSHA reported that an estimated 2 million construction workers are exposed to silica hazards in their workplaces. OSHA updated its Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for silica in 2017, lowering the PEL for silica to 50 micrograms per meter cubed, averaged over an 8-hour day.

Workers who inhale these particles are at an increased risk of developing silica-related diseases such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. Utilizing a dust management solution lowers this risk. MILWAUKEE® is committed to providing safe and versatile silica dust management solutions to help jobsites comply with OSHA regulations. When using the MX FUEL™ Handheld Core Drill, dust can be managed by either extracting it with the 8 Gallon Dust Extractor and Dust Shroud or by suppressing dust using the onboard water connection, allowing workers to core in both dry and wet applications.

According to the National Safety Council, there were 105 million days lost in 2019 due to work-related injuries (National Safety Council, Work Injury Costs - Injury Facts). This Safety Technology, along with the Core Drill’s side handle, helps address the risk of rotation, reducing the chances workers will be thrown off a ladder, lose teeth, break bones, or need stitches.

Along with greater safety for workers, productivity is boosted by fewer days away from work injuries. In addition, the Core Drill has the power to core 6-in. holes in reinforced concrete, adding productivity whether handheld or used on a stand. The freedom from cords adds more safety and productivity. Often, electricians need to core on a building exterior above a door. That used to mean stringing hundreds of feet of cords into a house, often up stairwells, causing trip hazards. Or, it meant using a generator, requiring both gas and corded support. Battery power means that the time once spent looking for a power source or resetting circuit breakers is now spent getting to work.

Next Gen Concrete Core Drills and Next Gen Safety TechnologyMilwaukee Tool Corp.

Support for Health & Safety Professionals

Building a company-wide safety culture to protect workers is a choice that is reinforced in daily decisions such as equipment selection. Safety Technology can support an organization's safety goals.

  • Protect workers and help build a safety culture. Safety Technology can become a cultural grounding point for an organization, letting workers know that the everyday risk is recognized and that they work for an organization that cares. Workers are a company’s most important resource. Purchasing equipment with Safety Technology and educating workers on benefits and use is a responsible investment in future worker health.
  • Use equipment budgets to strategically support the business. Organizations recognize that the ramifications for injuries on the job impact more than just the worker. They also have a domino effect on the company’s bottom line. While it’s not surprising that the upfront cost of new solutions can be an initial hurdle for some companies, the long-term cost savings, productivity improvements, and overall impact on worker morale can provide significant savings.
  • Save the direct and indirect cost of injuries. Equipment featuring Safety Technology can help prevent insurance rate hikes due to claims, along with the productivity cost of days away from work. In 2016, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of all types, which can be caused by core drilling injuries, comprised about 40% of all lost-time workplace injuries (National Occupational Research Agenda for Musculoskeletal Health ( The numbers are likely low as several studies have found that both workers and employers may under-report MSDs, according to the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for Musculoskeletal Health. Battery-powered light equipment featuring Safety Technology can help reduce claim costs and help avoid injuries, such as MSDs.

While elimination and substitution rank at the top of the NIOSH hierarchy in dealing with jobsite risks, new solutions focused on Safety Technology are often some of the most impactful. Safety Technology is part of a larger jobsite evolution that’s changing the way work gets done. New and safer battery-operated solutions redefine light equipment, including core drills. These solutions offer user-driven designs, including Engineering Controls that supply safety, productivity, and ease of use.

The mindset on today’s jobsites has changed. Workers realize that the historic safety risks they used to accept as “part of the job,” such as the risks surrounding traditional core drilling are now addressable on the jobsites. 

About the author

Kevin Gee joined Milwaukee Tool in 2012 as part of the company’s new product development team. Currently, he is responsible for overseeing the strategy and product development for the company’s MX FUEL Cordless Equipment System. Prior to joining MILWAUKEE®, Gee worked as a field sales representative and holds both a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree from Lakehead University.