Nearly half of all accidents involving abrasive wheels are due to an unsafe system of work or operator error.
In general, abrasive wheels are used for grinding, cutting, sanding and polishing materials such as wood, tile, concrete and metal. Abrasive wheels consist of a spinning wheel, cone or cup, coated with abrasive articles. They are also known as grinders or cutting wheels.
Common causes of abrasive wheel breakages are:
Improper storage methods
Wrong wheel selection
Extreme out-of-balance conditions
Incorrect grinding or cutting procedures
Abrasive wheel operators are also exposed to the hazard of vibration, which can lead to hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Employers can eliminate or mitigate these risks by adhering to abrasive wheels regulations and ensuring that their workers receive adequate training.
The use of abrasive wheels in Scotland, England and Wales is regulated by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations act 1998 (PUWER). PUWER requires that employers supply only work equipment, such as abrasive wheels, that is suitable and fit for purpose. All tools and machinery must also be correctly installed and not be in a deteriorating condition.
Employers must ensure any abrasive wheels that they supply come with declaration of conformity, ensuring they are safely designed, and appropriately marked. Employers must also conduct a risk assessment to ensure the work environment and work being done will be conducted safely. Any hazards identified must be suitably controlled.
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