Makita’s tips for site safety

When selecting and using power tools, a number of safety considerations need to be applied. Here, Kevin Brannigan, Makita UK’s Marketing Manager, explains more.

Professionals working in the woodworking, joinery, carpentry and furniture making sectors will be well accustomed to using power tools on a daily basis. To ensure operator safety, it’s important to select machines from trusted, leading manufacturers, which include innovative features designed to protect users from harm.

Dust management
According to a recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report, occupational lung disease causes an estimated 12,000 deaths per year – and construction workers are at a particularly high risk. This is especially true for woodworking professionals as projects inevitably produce a high volume of dust particles, and over time, breathing these in can cause serious health issues. The HSE estimates that woodworkers are four times more likely to develop asthma compared with other UK workers, and highlights hardwood dust as a cause of cancer, particularly of the nose. It is therefore paramount that measures are taken to control dust on site. Many will be aware of the legal requirement to use Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE); however, the finer details may not be as commonly known. For example, the minimum requirement is P3/APF 20 (Assigned Protection factor) classification mask or similar and RPE should always be fitted and tested properly, to ensure it provides maximum protection and fits the face correctly, without impairing the user’s ability to work freely or see nearby hazards. It is important to ensure that the RPE is CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and suitable for the user, work and environment. In addition, operators should also ensure that on-tool dust extraction units are used. These include dust extractors, accessories and attachments that work to capture the dust at source and prevent it from becoming airborne, and posing a risk to those on and around the site. To meet the minimum legal requirements for most construction materials, the dust extractor must be M-Class – removing 99.9% of dust without the extractor venting dust back into the air through its exhaust, to ensure that occupational exposure limits are as low as => 0.1mg/m³ of air. To maximise on site efficiency, look for dust extractors that include innovative features such as the ‘power take-off’ setting, which connects corded tools with an extractor, so that when the tool is powered on, the extractor automatically starts. For example, Makita’s VC4210MX and VC3012MX Wet and Dry M Class dust extractor vacuum cleaners include this technology to ensure the user is always protected when the tool is in operation. Furthermore, as the extractor automatically turns off when the tool is no longer in use, it’s not left running for extended periods between tasks. Makita also offers a wireless unit adaptor, which allows machines such as the VC4210MX and VC3012MX to connect with compatible cordless power tools via Bluetooth. This is made possible through Automatic-Start Wireless System (AWS) technology, which is built into a number of Makita’s cordless machines.


When using power tools regularly, noise from the machines poses a significant risk as, over time, it can lead to hearing damage. As well as the use of ear protection, it is recommended to always check the noise output of the machine itself as some models will produce lower noise levels than others.

When exposed to vibration produced by power tools over time, injuries such as Vibration White Finger (VWF) or Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV) will occur, which result in nerve damage that can lead to pain, tingling, numbness and reduced dexterity in the affected area. Helpfully, there are models available on the market that produce lower vibration levels with the inclusion of innovative technologies such as Makita’s Anti-Vibration Technology. This works by transferring air around a series of chambers, which, in turn, pushes a counterbalance in the opposite direction to the piston, thereby counteracting the vibration the piston would have otherwise created. For added protection, look for machines with shock absorbing handles.

Cordless technology
With cordless machines there are no trailing cables around the work area, so trip hazards are virtually eliminated. What’s more, no cables mean that operators can position the machine in such a way that the work is made easier and safer, thus improving efficiency. To minimise the number of cables on site when using a dust extractor, it is recommended to look for models which will power corded tools from the unit.

Correct training
It is very important for professionals to complete training prior to operating power tools and do so at regular intervals throughout their career. This ensures they can carry out work safely and efficiently, and are aware of how to minimise risk from dust inhalation, HAV, noise and increased risk of trips and falls. Makita offers product safety training to familiarise users with the machines and provides the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience with the tools in a safe and controlled environment. In addition, the company hosts regular City and Guilds accredited courses on the ‘correct and safe use for hand held power tools’. This covers the hazards associated with the use of power tools, health and safety considerations and how to operate the machines correctly and safely.

For further information and to find out more about Makita’s health and safety training courses, see

Makita (UK) Ltd
Michigan Drive
Tongwell, Milton Keynes
Bucks, MK15 8JD
01908 211 678