The first thing the HSE mention in their Angle grinder health and safety booklet is that nearly half of all accidents involving abrasive wheels are due to an unsafe system of work or operator error. Given the seriousness of the injuries these machines can cause we hope to detail some useful information to help you with your operation safety.
In this blog we hope to highlight the dangers but also the precautions you can take to improve your angle grinder health and safety. These measures can help to prevent accidents in the use of abrasive wheels, in particular injury resulting from either wheel breakage or contact with a running wheel. However, this is not a replacement for formal training, which is requirement for all operators of Abrasive Wheels.
The primary objective of PUWER 98 (the regulation covering Abrasive Wheels) is to ensure that work equipment, including Angle Grinders, does not give rise to risks to Health and Safety, regardless of the work equipment’s age, condition or origin. PUWER applies to all workplaces and work situations subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
In relation to abrasive wheels, PUWER 98 requires, among other things, that all machinery is suitable for its intended use and is properly maintained, and that employees, including those using, mounting and managing the operation of abrasive wheels, are fully informed and properly trained in their safe use.
Angle Grinder Training
Any formal training programme should cover at least the following:
(a) hazards and risks arising from the use of abrasive wheels and the precautions to be observed;
(b) methods of marking abrasive wheels with their type, size and maximum operating speed;
(c) how to store handle and transport abrasive wheels;
(d) how to inspect and test abrasive wheels for damage;
(e) the functions of all the components used with abrasive wheels such as flanges, blotters, bushes, nuts etc;
(f) how to assemble abrasive wheels correctly, to make sure they are properly balanced and fit to use;
(g) the proper method of dressing an abrasive wheel. (Removing dulled abrasive or other material from the cutting surface, removing material to correct any uneven wear of the wheel);
(h) the correct adjustment of the work rest on pedestal or bench grinding machines;
(i) the use of suitable personal protective equipment, for example eye protection
It is recommended that a record of training in the safe mounting of abrasive wheels is kept, showing the trainee’s name and date of training.
Abrasive wheel characteristics
An abrasive wheel is usually defined as: a wheel consisting of abrasive particles bonded together with various substances. There are two main types of bonding agent: inorganic and organic.
Abrasive wheel marking system
This should conform to Annex A of BS EN 124133
Summary of mounting procedures
Wheel mounting should be carried out only by an appropriately trained person. A wheel should be mounted only on the machine for which it was intended. Before mounting, all wheels should be closely inspected to ensure that they have not been damaged in storage or transit.
The speed marked on the machine should not exceed the speed marked on the wheel, blotter or identification label.
Portable and hand-held grinding machines
Inspection and maintenance
The user of a hand-held tool should carry out a visual check on the tool before using it, so that obvious defects can be identified. For example damage to the cable sheath, loose plug connections etc. Any tool in an unserviceable or unsafe condition must be withdrawn from use until defects have been rectified by a person competent to carry out this class of work.
Internal combustion grinding machines
One particular safety hazard with this type of machine is overspeeding. This may be due to a number of causes such as petrol – air ratio (mixture setting), together with ignition timing. However, under no circumstances should the speed marked on the wheel be exceeded.
Summary of operating precautions
Training of operators.
Operators should be properly and formally trained in the safe use of grinding machines.
Mounting of abrasive wheels should only be done by appropriately trained people.
The maximum operating speed marked on the wheel, should under no circumstances be exceeded.
The wheel guard should always be secured in position and properly adjusted before the wheel is run.
Work rests should be kept adjusted as close as possible to the wheel.
Starting new wheels.
New wheels should be run free at normal operating speed for about a minute.
Eye protectors should be worn in all dry grinding operations.
Personal protective equipment
To comply with government regulations appropriate protection must be worn, to prevent injury and protect operators from harm.
(a) Injury to the eyes from flying abrasive and metallic particles,
(b) Inhalation of dust from dry grinding operations (for example petrol-engined cutting-off machines);
(c) Physical injury due to flying wheel fragments or ejected workpieces;
(d) Noise and vibration;
Eye protection should conform to the relevant BS EN standard such as BS EN 166
Dust protection (face masks) etc should comply with BS EN 149
Other Health and Safety Considerations
Other risks to safety and health which may arise from the use of abrasive wheels, for example:
(a) dust; and
(b) noise and vibration.
Hand Held Cut Off Saws
Although hand held cut off saws fall under the same Abrasive wheels regulations, it is now recommended that operators receive separate training for these large pieces of equipment due to the differences in operating each machine.
How we can help
At Kentra Training we have been delivering angle grinder health and safety courses for over 20 years, all our instructors are registered with NPORS, a Nationally recognised training awarding body established in 1992. These training programs have been developed with leading manufacturers and UK leading companies to provide the very best of training for your operatives.
The Kentra Training team are looking forward to helping.