Hand-held angle grinders are widely used across many sectors, including steel frame fabrication.
Real-use measurements on angle grinders show upper quartile values in the range 7 to 9 m/s², this means that there is a risk of ill health to operators regularly using these machines for as little as 20 minutes per day and a high number of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) RIDDORs are investigated from steel frame fabrication. Grinders also typically produce LAeq noise levels of around 90 to 95 dB(A), making them a significant contributor to occupational noise exposure.
In addition to hand-arm vibration (HAV) and noise, many hand-held grinder users are also exposed to other physical hazards such as dust. Methods used to control dust, such as masks and water suppression systems, do not make any contribution to mitigating the effects of HAV and noise or to reducing musculoskeletal disorders.
The most effective way of controlling exposures from grinders is to reduce or eliminate the use of these machines.
The HSE conducted a project investigating alternative processes to grinding as well as methods designed to reduce emissions from grinders. This work has shown that there are alternative machines and wheels that can reduce vibration, noise and dust emission values when compared to standard angle grinders and discs. However, it is important that dutyholders take a holistic view and look at the overall reductions that can be made. Alternatives to angle grinders should be considered where possible.
To read more about this project and the solutions and outcomes, check out this link below: