abrasive wheel sparks

Do you really need Abrasive Wheels training?

Posted on 1st Dec, 2022 | By Isobel

Operating abrasive wheels is one of the most dangerous disciplines within the construction industry. If you use abrasive wheels, whether at home or in the workplace, you are exposing yourself to a number of injuries, including the risk of death. 

According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), almost 50% of all injuries involving abrasive wheels are due to unsafe systems of work or operator errors. Additionally, the use of abrasive wheels is regulated by the Provisions and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act 1998 (PUWER). For this reason, all operators of abrasive wheels should receive comprehensive training and be considered competent. 

Firstly, what are abrasive wheels?

Abrasive wheels are disposable wheels that are made from abrasive materials or compounds. The abrasive particles are bonded together with various substances, such as resin. The wheels are predominantly used to modify or prepare internal and external surfaces using either peripheral grinding, face grinding or an abrasive cut-off. They may also be used for sanding, polishing, cutting, deburring and finishing. 

What causes abrasive wheels to be so dangerous?

Abrasive wheels are extremely powerful tools, and due to their design, the consequences of the body coming into direct contact with the wheels could be life-changing and potentially life-ending. Things to consider when assessing your abrasive wheels are:

Damaged or broken wheels

Over time, wheels are subject to becoming cracked or chipped. Any damage to the wheel can lead to fragments of material being ejected at great speeds. This can cause serious injuries, including death. 

Additionally, if a wheel is worn out or used incorrectly, it can overheat and burst. A bursting wheel has the potential to be fatal for anyone in its vicinity. 


Touching the wheel 

Accidentally touching an abrasive wheel can cause significant damage to human skin. The wheels are designed to grind and cut materials, and rotate between 6,000 and 15,000 rpm –  so could severely deform and damage a human if accidentally touched. For this reason, it is important to receive abrasive wheels training to help reduce the likelihood of accidental touches. 


Sparks and splinters

Due to the extremely high speeds at which abrasive wheels operate, they can produce sparks. These sparks have the potential to lead to fires and even explosions if the work environment isn’t kept clean and ventilated. 


Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

Unfortunately, abrasive wheels are known to cause Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) if used incorrectly for prolonged periods of time. HAVS is a permanent and painful condition that affects the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints of the hands and arms. It is caused by exposure to the vibrations of tools (such as abrasive wheels, hammer drills, chain saws etc.). 


What are your legal responsibilities as an employer?


For your employees

As an employer, you are legally obligated to ensure that your employees are competent and fully trained in the use of abrasive wheels. This responsibility falls under the PUWER (1998) regulations, which states that all workplace machinery must be used by ‘competent and trained people’


For anyone on-site with your permission

Not only are you responsible for your employees, but PUWER (1998) also states that you are responsible for anyone who is on your site with the employee’s permission.


  • Subcontractors
  • Technicians
  • Suppliers


Abrasive Wheels training courses

Here at Brown’s Safety Services, we offer an Abrasive Wheels training course. Our course is carried out by experienced instructors, and is designed for anyone working with abrasive wheels. We can offer both open courses and on-site training, giving you the flexibility to attend one of our approved training centres or have an instructor attend your site. It is a Half-Day course (4 hours), and we can cater for up to 12 delegates per session. By the end of the course, all candidates will have a solid working understanding of how to safely operate, fit and replace abrasive wheels on equipment such as handheld grinders/disc cutters, Stihl saws, bench-mounted grinders and cut-off saws. 


Why choose Brown’s Safety Services?

Here at Brown’s Safety Services, we have been offering on-site equipment inspections and safety training courses to aid you in your Health & Safety compliance since 1997. We understand that for many employers, it may feel our team of experts are approachable and friendly, and only ever a phone call away!

For more information on our Abrasive Wheels training courses, please ring our friendly team on 01282 937083 or get in touch here!

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