When it comes to grinding and polishing safety, there are some factors that should be considered before the operator even starts to touch a workpiece. All operators should be aware of these practices. Some of these considerations include ergonomics, safety gear, correct speed (RPM), spark control, use of guards, accurate mounting of abrasives, as well as the appropriate product for the job. These are just some of the factors that should be addressed before operators even start touching a workpiece.

By making sure that you are using a proper product for the job, you can be assured that it is safe for that application. It is also important to consider the cost of the tool. Keep in mind that while you are trying to save some money on the tool, it might cost you more in the long run.

Even a minor injury in the workplace caused by a cheap abrasive wheel may cost your company thousands of dollars or more for the damages. That is why you have to make sure that the products you use conform to the safety standards. These tools are safe and designed to guarantee the safety of the operator. Nevertheless, if operators do not follow the right procedures and techniques, then they could create dangerous circumstances which could have been easily prevented.

Malfunctions Can Happen Anytime

It is undeniable that every tool can sometimes malfunction. These machines include guards, and they are not attached to the tool because it requires some prior assembly. Unfortunately, there are some people who are not aware of it, and they just throw the boxes with the guard still in them.

That is why new inspectors from the government are now looking into tools that do not have guards. While it seems that guards are nothing more than a burden, there is a certain tool that can meet your application needs, especially when you are working with tight spots. Keep in mind that all tools are not universal. This means that it can’t handle every job.

It is very important to remember that over the years, power tools have become much safer. However, if proper guidelines are not followed, then operators might still be susceptible to accidents and injuries that could have been easily prevented. The rules for every application differ. However, the following are some common circumstances that can cause potential safety hazards.

Hazardous Incidents

Obviously, safety is the number one consideration in a shop. This is especially true when young guys are working in older shops. The tendency is these young guys can pick up bad habits from the workers who have been there for 40 to 50 years. Most often, these operators who have been doing repetitive work will try to look for shortcuts so they can get the job done as fast as possible.

Unfortunately, they often cut serious safety corners along the way. The scariest part is these operators are transforming grinding wheels to make them more suitable for a particular job regardless of if the wheels are not designed for the job. 

For instance, shop operators will take a seven-inch grinding wheel with a rate of 8,600 RPM and manipulate it to fit into a five-inch grinder. This is not a smart idea since a five-inch grinder has a rating of 12,000 RPM. Although they are tested above the 8,600 thresholds, they have not yet been tested at 12,000 RPM. This means that the disc is spinning way beyond its safety rating which is quite scary since this could result in an extremely dangerous situation.

The key to safety is selecting the right product for the application. Sometimes people use a cutoff disc for grinding. This is not actually acceptable, except if the operator is using certain products that can work both for cutting and grinding. Generally, operators are using cutoffs more frequently. They grind the burr which is made from the same cutoff wheel. This can be very dangerous. Most cutoff wheels are not strengthened for lateral stability. They could result in severe injury to the operator when side-loaded and could also result in breakage.

Controlling the Spark

Another important factor that all operators should consider when starting a job is spark control. Directing the sparks to a certain area where there are no other people or fire hazards can be done easily, but sometimes operators fail to take this into consideration. For instance, if the sparks were thrown toward the cardboard wall, then it could burn the whole shop. And this is simply caused by the negligence of the operator. Also, if sparks are not aimed properly, then they could potentially burn surrounding workers.

Obviously, it’s common sense that operators should grind and cut away from themselves. They must not look at a wheel, but instead, they should turn it on down and away. Sometimes, kids love to watch it. However, if it gets closer to your face, then it could be very dangerous, especially if it is spinning at 80 m per second.

Another important thing to consider is proper safety equipment such as gloves, face shield, safety glasses, wheel guard, etc. If they are not being used, then there could be a higher risk of serious injuries such as damage to the eyes and other body parts, extensive loss of blood, and even death in severe cases.

Ergonomics

Since operators are doing repetitive motion, then they could suffer from pains, aches, and weak gripping. It is important to ensure that proper exposure limits are observed. Also, there are excellent products and accessories out there that can make the job more effective and smoother. As a result, it can improve productivity.

However, it is also important to consider that both the operator and tool have certain limitations. When it comes to ergonomics, operators should let the tool do the work. Some operators have the misconception that if they put more pressure into it, then it can go faster. However, it can also create more vibration. Hence, just let the tool do its work so it will be much smoother. The product can only be used at a specific pressure. The machine will tell you the amps that should be drawn when you are putting pressure on it. 

There is a certain condition known as white-knuckle syndrome, also referred to as the hand-arm vibration syndrome, which occurs when there is extreme vibration for a long period of time. Extended exposure to vibration can likely cause damage to the capillaries and prevents the flow of blood from going through the tips of the fingers.

One way of managing the vibration is to use accessories such as anti-vibration handles. This can moisten vibrations transported from the grinder to the hands. Since there is less vibration, then it allows the operator to work much longer. At the same time, you can also enjoy a quieter environment.

Ideally, most operators want to work in a comfortable position. Basically, they would want to put one hand on the handle of the grinder and the other hand on the barrel of the grinder. It would be more efficient if the hands are spaced evenly. In this way, there will be no discomfort at all and there is an excellent range of motion. And most of all, operators will have total control of the tool at all times.

Application Problems

When it comes to certain applications, it is crucial that operators should use the appropriate tool for the job considering the materials. There are some products that are specifically designed for a certain material in mind. And sometimes they are not designed for grinding, cutting, or polishing, or anything beyond that.

For instance, there are instances that the products intended for steel are being utilized on stainless steel. Keep in mind that steel and stainless share the same technique for grinding. At the same time, the same risks are also involved. This is typically the reason why operators choose to work on both materials simultaneously. However, they did not realize that this could result in contamination since steel products have additives that can likely contaminate and rust stainless.

Working on stainless workpieces in a steel environment can lead to costly damage. When these steel particles land on stainless, then it could lead to corrosion and oxidation on the workpieces. That is why, it is essential that when working with stainless materials, operators should be in a controlled environment to prevent cross-contamination.

Storage

Operators would always want to take the wheel off the machine. Most operators would simply shove an angle grinder straight to the job box while the grinding disc or cutting disc is still on it. As a result, there will be additional pressure on the side of it. This could lead to the breakage of the fiberglass which is a protective measure within bonded abrasives.

Once the operators use the tool and bring them up to speed, then it could start breaking apart, which is very dangerous. It is also important to remember that all wheels and discs have a shelf life. It is always best if operators use the oldest products first then rotate them constantly to obtain great results. When stock is stored, keep in mind that humidity can affect the performance of the tool. That is why it is important to reduce humidity as much as possible.

Sparks and Arcs is selling various types of abrasive products from wheels, grinders, discs, and many more. For more information, you can contact us at 877-95-SPARK (877-957-7275). Or you can also send us an email at [email protected]