Grinding wheels are used for preparing metal pieces for welding, removing excess material from surfaces, or sharpening tools. When these abrasive wheels are used, excess particles and materials can fly off the surface, or even pollute the air as fine dust materials.
Grinding wheels have plenty of health hazards to consider, and safety precautions to uphold. Most of these can be covered in abrasive wheel training sessions, but safety rules should always be reiterated. In this content piece, we will be looking at the safety rules that everyone should follow in their usage.
The Safety Practices in Grinding Wheel Usage
Grinding wheels are dangerous tools, and can cause harm if they are not used properly. To avoid potential injury, a few safety precautions have to be followed.
Any grinding wheel that is used on a bench or pedestal machine should have proper safety guards. Safety guards are critical as they enclose the wheel as much as possible, leaving only the parts exposed that are used.
Safety guards can protect users from sparks, fragments, and debris while grinding. It also prevents mishaps such as protecting from broken grinding wheel fragments if the wheel fails.
That being said, safety guards also need to be replaced if damaged, as abrasive wheels can cause serious damage if they break while rotating. If an abrasive wheel is cracked or vibrates excessively, it should be replaced.
Check Manufacturer Instructions for Proper Usage Guidelines
Manufacturers often have guidelines for the most ideal methods for using their products. They often state the required running speeds for the grinder or the grinder wheel. They may also provide a manual for how to properly use guards as well as how to clean and service the wheels.
Perform Pre-use Checks
Before use, all abrasive wheel machines should be inspected to ensure they are operating normally. For example, it should be ensured that a grinding wheel will not be operable if left unattended by checking if the dead-man switch is properly functional. It uses a constant pressure switch so it has to be pressed down to use the grinding wheel.
Additionally, having the proper permits, such as a hot work permit, when required, should also be taken into consideration.
Always Wear Safety Equipment
Wearing safety goggles and a face shield is mandatory when working with grinding wheels. Safety glasses or goggles must be worn alongside the face shield to maximize protection against flying particles and fragments.
Other safety equipment includes gloves. Ensure that the glove is a good fit, and is thick enough to be protective, but not so thick that it restricts movement. It is also ideal to hold the grinder with both hands when in use. In some cases, it might be best not to use gloves at all when using grinding wheels, as they can get caught in the wheel itself as well. This primarily depends on your use case.
Aprons, metatarsal safety footwear, hearing protection, and even respiratory protection can be a necessity depending on the type of work being done.
Keep the Work Area Clean
Before using a grinding wheel, make sure that the work area and the floor are clean. A grinder should not be operated on wet floors. A dirty or wet surface can add the risk of slipping or tripping, and the risk can be further amplified through the use of a grinding wheel.
Cleanliness and organization around the work area should also be practiced. The power chords for the grinding wheels should be properly grounded and should be away from the grinder itself. Additionally, any flammable substances, combustible materials, or ignition sources should also be separated.
The grinding wheel should also be used sporadically so that dust does not accumulate and create a combustion hazard.
Avoid These Things When Using Grinding Wheels
When using grinding wheels, there are also certain practices to avoid, as they can certainly avert the potential risk of harm. A few examples are:
- Do not wear loose clothing around the grinding wheels. They can get caught in the wheel and can cause some serious injury. The same goes for wearing any jewelry items that may be dangling near a grinding wheel, or long hair that might get in the way.
- When you are mounting a grinder, do not tighten the nuts too hard or too loose.
- Make sure all portable grinders stop spinning completely before unmounting them and putting them on another surface.
- Always match the proper sizes, RMP, and any other specifications of the grinder and grinder wheel.
- Avoid using cracked abrasive wheels. Grinding wheels breaking are among the most common type of abrasive wheel hazards.
Abrasive wheels or grinding wheels are dangerous, and using them means that there are plenty of risks to consider. Those working with grinding wheels need to keep certain safety rules in mind to keep their work as risk-averse as possible.
In this content piece, we have discussed a few ways to uphold safety during grinding wheel usage, as well as certain best practices and what to avoid.