abrasive wheel sparks

4 Key Steps To Preventing Accidents With Abrasive Wheels

Posted on 28th Feb, 2018 | By Lorretta Tatham

Abrasive wheels like those used in grinders, disc cutters and saws, are amongst the most formidable of power tools; incredibly useful when used responsibly, but also with the potential to cause serious damage if not treated with respect. As experts in safety here at Browns, we’re well-versed in best practices when it comes to abrasive wheels, so this week we’re looking at some of the best ways to reduce accidents.

These four key steps are to:

  1. Ensure thorough training is delivered
  2. Enforce effective transport and storage measures
  3. Wear appropriate PPE
  4. Stay alert for dangers of dust and gas inhalation

1. Ensuring Thorough Training Is Delivered

According to the HSE, almost half of all accidents with abrasive wheels are due to operator error, which underlines how vital it is for all employees who deal with abrasive wheels to receive thorough training. This means not just the operators themselves, but also nearby employees, or those who might find themselves coming into close proximity to an abrasive wheel.

Not only is it vital for everyone to know the risks, but also extensive training can allow employees to inspect the wheels and spot any signs of damage, which might potentially lead to it destabilising and causing injury further down the line.

2. Enforce Effective Transport And Storage Measures

storage of abrasive wheels

Primarily, this prevents the abrasive wheels from sustaining damage that might otherwise result in accidents later on, such as discs shattering or flying off their axles. For particularly large industrial abrasive wheels, for example, it’s generally inadvisable to wheel across the floor unless there is some sort of protective covering. Instead, a wheelbarrow or similar conveyance system should be used, safeguarding the wheels’ integrity.

3. Wear Appropriate PPE

This is perhaps the most obvious measure on this list, but nonetheless it’s certainly worth including. Even a light brush of the wheel can cause an unprotected operator serious damage due to the sheer power of the machine. The majority of abrasive wheels are designed to cut much more resistant materials than hands and skin, which means that appropriate Personal Protective Equipment is absolutely non-negotiable for anyone handling or moving the machines, whether actively operating them or not. With regard to training (mentioned above), learning techniques delivered by a competent instructor like our experts at Browns Safety can similarly reduce the chance of injury.

personal protective equipment

4. Be Aware Of The Dangers Of Dust And Gas Inhalation

This can depend on the material in question that’s being sawed or ground, but dust and gas inhalation is an often underestimated workplace danger that can nonetheless have devastating health consequences. It’s up to employers to manage the environment in which abrasive wheels will be operating, ensuring that it’s as well ventilated as possible. Meanwhile, employees have a responsibility to ensure they wear the appropriate respiratory protective equipment, to filter out any harmful airborne contaminants from the material they’re working on.

Here at Browns Safety, your safety is our top priority, which is exactly why we run an Abrasive Wheels Training Courses – alongside similar courses – to help fully prepare you with the knowledge and expertise you need to safely operate abrasive wheels. You can book your place from the course page, or call 01282 615517 to book over the phone.

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