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Angle grinder accidents are one of the most dangerous hazards for people that use these types of tools. The consequences of angle grinder accidents can be catastrophic. Angle grinders are widely used among various types of industry; from the do it yourself kind of user to tougher construction operations and all the way to industrial heavy-duty nonstop applications.
What are most angle grinder injuries from?
At TFT-Pneumatic we want to help make industrial work places safer. This is why listed below are some of the most common dangerous situations that can lead to angle grinder accidents. While it is quite comprehensive please refer to additional information on the User Manual of the specific tool.
1. Higher than recommended operational speeds
When using angle grinders, it is important to verify the disc rating is higher than the rotational speed of the angle grinder. That means that if an angle grinder is rated at a free speed of 11,000 rpm, the rating of the discs needs to be higher than 11,000 rpm.
2. Wheel Guard Removal
A very common error from users is to remove the wheel guard right out of the package. Some grinding operations may be more complicated due to the wheel guard. It is important to remember it is there for the user’s protection and removal leaves the User exposed. Instead of removing the guard, approaching work from a different perspective might be the solution. Workers must inform their supervisors before proceeding to removal of wheel guards.
3. Proper PPE
Some of the proper PPE for using angle grinders includes gloves, safety glasses, face shield, leather apron, steel toe boots, long sleeves and long pants. As the angle grinder removes material hot sparks containing metal particles will be shot at high speed. They may reach temperatures in excess of 3,600°F (2,000 °C). In cases where hot loose particles are expected, proper PPE must be worn.
4. Loose articles/clothing/hair
Hair, necklaces, and loose closing may be at risk of getting caught in the disc. Please make sure not to use any jewelry or loose articles or closing while operating angle grinders as it can lead to severe accidents. In addition, take care to put up your hair if it’s long enough to reach the grinder or the surface.
5. Wheel Guard positioning
Improper positioning of wheel guard leaves the user unprotected. Make sure to keep your face behind the wheel guard to protect it against loose debris and sparks.
6. Appropriate position of the body with regards to tool and wheel guard
The User needs to have adequate body positioning as the tool may create unexpected movement and forces. Both feet need to be well planted in a firm surface and both hands should be used on the tool. Some smaller tools may only require or allow for the use of one hand. The User should be able to identify them respectively to avoid angle grinder accidents.
7. Angle Grinder Kickback
Depending on the application and particularly while cutting it is important to observe and be attentive to the possibility of a kickback. The User needs to make sure to account for such a reaction from the tool and use proper technique and equipment to ensure safety. This is the type of angle grinder accidents that is the easiest to avoid, using the right tool.
8. Wheel damage
The extensive use of the traditional angle grinder wheel will unequivocally lead to deterioration of the wheel. As the wheel is being used the friction from the grinding or cutting application will both remove material from the surface being grinded as well as from the wheel itself. It is important to ensure the wheel is safe to operate. Follow the Manufacturer guidelines ad discontinue the use of any wheel that is torn, ripped, damaged, or that it shows any potential risk.
9. Wheel reuse into smaller grinders
As incredible as it may sound some users will continue to use wheels past their intended life, particularly for cutting applications.
Picture this, a 7” angle grinder with a 5/8”-11 spindle will have a certain life span before the angle head of the tools makes it materially impossible to use any more. Then the User will remove the disc and install in smaller tool and run it until the life is gone. While this may not seem like the worst possible idea it actually is incredibly dangerous. The reason is that generally speaking bigger wheels have lower rpm ratings than smaller wheels. So that 7” angle grinder wheel, rated at 7,000 rpm may not be used in a 4.5” angle grinder which rating is 11,000 rpm.
The risk of bursting is incredibly high. Manufacturers surely account for a safety factor when rating their wheels but probably not enough to cover such large gaps. By saving a few bucks the User will have to endure a far higher health and medical cost.
10. Lack of Training
Goes without saying but an angle grinder is not the type of tool you want to experiment on. Safety is of the upmost importance while using thus type of tools. Thus, grinders must only be operated by trained personnel.
11. Flying particles
Be aware of any debris, metal or sparks being propelled from the grinding wheel as the high speed of the particles and the long-distance travel may impact people and objects around you. Keep in mind these flying particles and sparks mat fly as much as 18 to 21 ft.
12. Spark damage
Hot sparks will burn off adjacent paint and equipment. Make sure to keep these things into consideration as repairs from sparks may have a high cost depending on the application.
13. Fire / Explosion risk
With Hot Sparks being as Hot as 3,600°F (2,000 °C) t is important to use the right equipment for the job. TFT-PNEUMATIC offers Certified Cold Work Grinders and Cutting Tools for use in Explosive Environments including Class 1 Div 1 & 2 as well as Dust Explosive Environments and EX Areas.
14. Tripping hazard
Both electric and pneumatic tools are connected to either air or electricity, make sure the cable or air supply line does not interfere with your mobility and equipment.
15. Shock Hazard
Electrical angle grinder pose an additional risk to their pneumatic counter parts. Be particularly careful with electrical cables and if they are peeling of or have cuts discontinue their use. Goes without saying but do not use near water or in the rain.
16. Using The Correct Tools
Even though angle grinders are one of the most versatile tools out there, they too have their limit. In some cases, workers might use grinders to cut and shape thin sheets of metals. This is extremely dangerous since the wheel can get buried inside the material and disintegrate. In addition, using high-speed grinders on brittle surfaces might cause debris to fly off of the surface.
17. Toxic Fumes
Some surfaces might be covered with certain protective chemicals. Heat generated by grinding may cause those chemicals to release toxic fumes. When inhaled, those fumes can cause respiratory damage. If there’s such a threat, respiratory protective gear must be worn by the worker.
18. Incorrect Shut Down
Due to inertia, a grinder wheel does not stop immediately when the user hits the off button. The grinder must not be put away without the wheel stopping completely.
Prevent Angle Grinder Accidents
The power type of angle grinders can be electric or pneumatic. Depending on the type some may be more prone to some type of accidents.
TFT-PNEUMATIC Milling discs – For use in aluminum, Inconel, Stainless, magnesium and so on. It can provide the same level of work as a circular saw blade in an angle grinder without the kickback. It can be resharpened up to 7 times and can have a lifetime of hundreds of hours in between resharpenings.
Power grinders are versatile tools. This is why they are popular in various workplaces. However, they also cause a number of accidents due to improper training or use. With this article, we’ve curated the most common causes for grinder related accidents and described how to avoid them.