An abrasive grinder is a powerful tool most commonly used by construction workers and contractors. It is an abrasive wheel that allows the fast and smooth cutting of various surfaces and materials. But, like all the other power tools, a grinding wheel can be dangerous if used incorrectly or carelessly.
That’s why safety while using such tools is a major concern. The use of grinding wheels can also lead to accidents if they are not used properly or are damaged. Thus, it is essential for a person using a grinding wheel to be familiar with the types of injuries associated with it and how to prevent these injuries.
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What are the workplaces where grinding wheel accidents occur?
Grinding wheels are used in a variety of workplaces, and each of these workplaces has specific risks associated with grinding wheel use. Below are some examples of workplaces where common grinding wheel accidents can occur.
A grinding wheel is used to cut and shape concrete and other solid materials used in the construction of houses or other sites. The most common use of grinding wheels occurs at construction sites. Misusing the grinding wheels without safety precautions can pose a significant risk.
Most accidents related to grinding wheels happen when the wheel is overloaded, causing wheel breakage or flying debris. These situations can pose a severe threat to your health. Other accidents, such as electric shocks, can occur when using the grinding wheel in a wet or damp condition.
Thus, it is vital to be fully prepared and trained before using a grinding wheel. It is crucial to understand that accidents leading from grinding wheels can be very harmful.
Therefore, you must adequately assess your surroundings and be familiar with the training of using such tools. Construction risk assessment should be a regular practice for employers to carry out before the employees begin their tasks to ensure their health and safety.
Doing so would allow employers to maximize workplace safety and comply with workplace health and safety regulations.
Grinding wheels are frequently used in metalworking shops to shape and smooth metal surfaces. Accidents can occur if the grinding wheel is not secured correctly, leading to wheel breakage or flying debris. Additionally, overheating of the material being grounded can cause burns, and producing metal dust can pose a risk of respiratory problems.
A grinding wheel is ubiquitous in manufacturing facilities, cutting and shaping heavy and hard objects accordingly. Such as shaping and smoothing metal, plastic, and other materials. Accidents can occur if the grinding wheel is overloaded or the grounded material is not supported correctly, leading to wheel breakage or flying debris.
Other workplaces include:
- Woodworking shops
- Automotive repair facilities
Common grinding wheel accidents
When you use a grinding tool, you need to use it correctly to avoid any injuries. Angle grinder safety involves more than just changing the wheels; it also includes using the machine appropriately, selecting the correct attachments, and setting up the essential safeguards.
By selecting the improper tools or wheel for the job, you could be harmed in several ways, including;
- Cuts to the skin
- Amputation of fingers
- Eye injuries
- Head injuries
- Foot injuries
- Other impact injuries
Many of these injuries can be caused by ejected abrasive and metallic particles, emitted materials, and contact with the tool. Here are the types of accidents caused by grinding tools:
Contact with the wheel
Grinding wheels are used to cut through stone, concrete, metal, and other hard material, so they would take no time to cut through human flesh and bones. Contact with the wheel while in use can have serious consequences, such as deep cuts and amputations.
This type of injury is more likely when you are not adequately equipped and guarded with safety equipment. Wearing suitable gloves to keep a good grip, focus on your task, and remain alert would help prevent such accidents.
Abrasive wheels are used to cut into hard materials and surfaces, and often due to heat and force, they can shatter. The shattering can result in serious operator injury and equipment damage. This possibility of this risk can be reduced by regularly checking the wheel’s discs, correctly mounting, and safely using the angle grinders to maximize safety and well-being.
By being aware of the limitations of your wheel discs, you can reduce the risk of a burst. Only using a disc that is in good condition and is not yet expired.
Many accidents related to grinding wheels occur when the wheel is not mounted correctly or used for another type of cutting task it was not designed for.
Contact with projectiles
Projectiles are the second name for flying particles and materials that could occur when using grinding wheels. Projectiles happen when the wheels burst, and the material is cut or grounded.
It is nearly impossible to save yourself from projectiles, but you can minimize the risk of these by using the right tools, wheels, and settings for the material.
Because the risk of flying particles and materials can only be reduced and not eliminated. Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and safety measures to protect you from the threat of projectiles, especially eye and head protection.
Kickback can occur when the grinding machines jam on the material it is cutting through. Kickback causes a sudden startle and generates a force on the user’s hand, which eventually causes the person to lose control of the tool. The lost tool can hit the worker or get dropped, resulting in foot and leg injuries.
Kickback is more likely when you use the wrong wheel, such as using a low-level grinding tool to cut into a hard surface or running the wheel at the wrong speed.
You can reduce the risk of kickback by using the correct grinding wheel for the suitable surface and having the wheel’s speed at the right pace.
While using grinding wheels, the chances of the tool being entangled by coming in contact with a loose thing, such as your clothes, can be very high. As the wheel is a rotating disc, once something loose comes in its way, it is evident that it would cause entanglement and result in some accidents.
Therefore, workers handling grinding tools should refrain from wearing long sleeves, and baggy types of clothes, as it minimizes the chances of the clothes being entangled with the tool.
A large number of sparks is a common phenomenon when using grinding wheels, and there’s no surety that you can stop these sparks. So, the only precautions you can take in such a matter is to ensure you are working in a safe environment, especially when handling such tools. For example, if you are using a grinder near a fuel-like source or some flammable substance, you are most likely creating a risk of fire and explosion. These flammable substances can catch fire with the grinder’s heated sparks.
Many grinding tools are electric, so you should consider the possibility of electrical accidents when working with such tools. Safety measures while using electrical grinders include; assessing the tool visually and functionally, performing a portable appliance test, and keeping the route cables away from the wheels to avoid contact.
Training is a crucial component of workplace safety, and it should never be underestimated by any means. An employer can provide the best safety measure to its employees who are indulged in handling abrasive tools by giving them appropriate training.
Such as, in the case of using abrasive tools in the workplace, an employer can provide their employees with abrasive wheel training to educate them on the dos and don’ts of handling an abrasive wheel.
Furthermore, good training would teach the trainees the importance of wearing personal protective equipment and ensuring their well-being while working with such dangerous tools.
By providing your employees with training, you can ensure they have the knowledge and skills to operate grinding wheels safely and recognize potential hazards and risks associated with their use.
Grinding wheels are a standard tool used in various workplaces, but they can pose a significant hazard and risk if not used properly. Workplaces ranging from metalworks and construction sites to manufacturing facilities all use grinding tools in their daily work practices.
Carelessness, insufficient knowledge, and improper techniques while handling such tools can harm the workers’ health and cause various accidents resulting in serious injuries. To help you with that, this blog has focused on the grinding tool safety issues and the associated workplace accidents.
By understanding the potential hazards and risks associated with grinding wheel use, using the correct wheel type for the task at hand, properly maintaining and mounting the wheel, and following all safety guidelines, workers can minimize the risk of accidents.
Additionally, comprehensive training and a culture of safety in the workplace can help prevent accidents related to grinding wheels and promote a safe and healthy workplace for all.