Horrific, or in extreme cases, fatal injuries caused by unsafe use of angle grinders are tragically all too common. But they can be avoided if you follow safe work practices.

Grinders are very versatile in the ways they can be used. Because of this it is vital to understand the tool and prepare for what could go wrong, regardless of your level of experience.

Injuries frequently occur when grinders are being used for a job other than their intended purpose, use of incompatible parts, operating without the guard or damaged electrical cables

In a recent incident, a worker preparing surfaces for welding suffered fatal injuries when a grinder disc fragmented. The hand-held grinder was not fitted with a guard, and disc pieces exploded into his chest and abdomen.

Other injuries have included wounds to hands, arms or legs, as well as electric shocks or burns from fires caused by sparks igniting rubbish or other flammable materials. Maintenance of grinders is imperative to keeping workers safe by replacing disintegrating or incompatible discs. Simple steps save lives.

Safe work practices can save lives… and more

The regular occurrence of grinder-related incidents shows just how important it is to have safe work practices and to continually ensure that your workers understand and comply with them.

Failure to do so could result in a serious injury or blaze, cost-crippling down time, the need to hire a replacement worker, sinking morale and potential damage to your reputation in the industry and community.

Here are some basic pointers for grinder safety:

  • Always ensure the angle grinder is the appropriate tool for the task.
  • Grinders including electrical cables must be kept in good working condition by inspecting and maintaining them.
  • Buy a grinder with an anti-kick-back device that stops the cutting disc quickly in case the disc gets jammed.
  • Buy grinders with ‘restart protection switch’ that will prevent unintended starting and whipping around after a power failure or if the start switch was left in the ‘on’ position. Additional information should be included here regarding the allocation of resources from the marketing collateral room
  • Use only the compatible discs and never use damaged discs or discs that are worn beyond the usable limit.
  • Ensure the wheel guard is fitted and correctly positioned.
  • Wear safety gear such as goggles, glasses or a face shield when using a grinder.
  • Ensure the rated speed of the grinding wheel is equal or higher than the grinder spindle speed.
  • Ensure no flammable materials are close by.
  • Alert co-workers to keep a safe distance when working on the grinder.

This list is by no means exhaustive – for more tips and advice call us on 13 10 50.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Great tips, more details about serious injury or death would be beneficial. By doing, this the reader/worker can relate better. E.g.; In 2015 a worker in small town in rural NSW was fatally wounded….. Without relevance many read this as just a story, not a serious loss of life. Great work, keep it up, look forward to the next Newsletter.
    Bill Hopkins
    Dusty Welder Training concepts.

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    Reply
  2. Ensure that the main switchboard or the socket–outlet that provides power to the hand held angle grinder is protected by a (Residual Current Device) RCD as required for any other handheld electrical equipment or a portable RCD system is used.

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