Angle grinders are versatile, powerful tools with a variety of uses. Their power makes them one of the most dangerous tools to use. In fact, a study done between 2016 and 2017 noted that out of 742 hand and arm injuries, 82 were caused by angle grinders. Most of these injuries were severe and resulted in high disabilities.
Angle grinders can cause:
- Head injuries
- Cuts and abrasions.
- Hand and foot injuries leading to amputations
- Eye injuries
Ignoring Safety Rules
Safety rules are there for a reason. Most, if not all, angle grinder guides teach you how to use an angle grinder safely. First, you should not use an angle grinder without the right protective wear.
The US Government Occupational Safety and Health Administration highlights what personal protective equipment (PPE) you should have when operating such tools. The right equipment will protect you from horrible accidents.
- Gloves to protect your hands
- Overalls or a leather apron to protect your body
- Ear muffs or plugs for your ears
- Safety goggles to protect your eyes
- A dust mask to protect you from toxic fumes and dust particles
- Boots or steel-toe cap shoes to protect your toes if the grinder falls on them
Contact With the Grinder Disc
An angle grinder is designed to cut through very dense material. Not only that, the wheels or discs rotate very fast, some reaching speed of 10,000 RPM. Nothing good can happen when you come into contact with such a tool. A grinder can easily cut through flesh and bone.
Dust and Toxic Fumes
Though dust and fumes come with the grinding process, they can be hazardous to your health. Metals can produce toxic fumes when heated. This can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and respiratory symptoms.
The most popular angle grinder is an electric one. Fraying cables and power surges can cause accidents.
Kickback is a common cause of grinder accidents. Kickback happens when the angle grinder gets stuck on a metal, wood, or stone surface when cutting. When this happens, it is easier to lose control, especially when you try to pull it out.
Kickback is bound to happen when you use the wrong disc, it is at the wrong speed, or if the blade is dull. Using discs that are not in good condition can cause them to break easily and result in harmful projectiles.
Sparks will fly when using an angle grinder. This cannot be avoided. This means that your environment has to be fireproof. There should not be any flammable materials as you work.
Disc breakage happens when the disc is too thin (particularly cutting ones), it is worn out, or it has not been mounted properly.
Projectiles are particles that fly as you use an angle grinder. These projectiles are hard to prevent due to the nature of the process. This is why it is important to wear your PPE without fail. Using the angle grinder the right way can also reduce injury from projectiles.
How to Avoid Grinder Accidents
As we have seen, there are several ways this powerful tool can harm you, and there are many steps you can take to avoid grinder accidents.
- Use the grinder with both hands to avoid losing your grip.
- Wear the right PPE and avoid any loose clothing or jewelry that might get caught in the grinder.
- Inspect the grinder before use to confirm that the wheels fit and are working properly placed.
- Keep your space clutter-free. Remove everything that can cause a fire or cause you to trip and fall.
- When working indoors, open all the windows and doors to ventilate the room.
- If using an electric grinder, keep it away from water or wet surfaces.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close by in case of a fire.
- Ensure the grinder is unplugged and switched off before using it. Angle grinders work at insane speeds, which can result in accidents.
- Work away from other people and pets.
- Use the right discs. A cutting tool should not be used for grinding and vice versa. In addition, ascertain that the rotating speeds on the disc match that of the grinder. Only use discs that the manufacturer recommends.
- Discard wheels that are broken or worn out.
- Do not remove the disc guard. Ensure that it is in the right position before using the grinder.
- Use the safety features.
- Pay attention to your work.
- Read the manual. The only way to use your grinder properly is to learn how to use it. There are countless youtube videos that you can also use to train yourself.
Whether you are working on a construction site or in the comfort of your home, safety is paramount. To avoid accidents, protect yourself from fumes, sparks, and projectiles. Read the grinder’s instruction manual to learn how to use it the right way. If you have a safer tool that can do the same job as an angle grinder, use that instead.