abrasive wheels

Everything You Need To Know About Abrasive Wheels

Abrasive wheels are an important and useful tool in the construction industry. However, they are also an incredibly dangerous piece of equipment, one which carries the risk of injury and even death if used by a person who has not been properly. 

To minimise this risk, APT offers a range of courses designed to keep you or your staff safe while operating these machines. In this article, though, we will take you through the most important FAQs of abrasive wheels. 

What Are Abrasive Wheels?

Also known as grinding or cutting wheels, abrasive wheels are small discs coated with abrasive material. For example, most modern abrasive wheels are coated in industrial diamonds. 

As their name suggests, these discs are used to cut or grind down strong materials such as rock. Abrasive wheels can be fitted to angle grinders or petrol saws. This makes them very useful in the construction and engineering industry, where they can be adapted into a variety of roles. 

What Are The Main Medical Issues Associated With Abrasive Wheels?

There are four main injuries commonly associated with Abrasive Wheel usage. These injuries are: 

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

HAVS is a condition where near constant vibration has led to nerve damage and restricted blood flow in an operator’s hands. This condition is permanent and serious, and every effort should be taken to minimise the risks. 

Abrasion and Penetrating Injuries

If the disc breaks during operation, it’s quite likely that any jammed parts or broken parts will be spat off the wheel at great speed. This could potentially lead to serious abrasions or even worse injuries. 

Damage to Ears

The recommended safe volume for human beings is 80 decibels over 8 hours or 70 decibels over 24 hours. However, as reported by WorkSafe Victoria, machines which make use of abrasive wheels often reach anywhere between 90 and 115 decibels. This far exceeds the maximum safety limit and could potentially lead to near-permanent or permanent hearing loss. 

Lung Damage and Cancer 

Any kind of process creates dust and other particulate matter which is thrown into the air. Generally speaking, all particulate matter is dangerous if breathed in. Some merely cause abrasion in the lungs. Other materials could be carcinogenic. As such, it’s important to wear a face mask when performing work with an abrasive wheel. 

These injuries can be both serious and life-threatening. As such, it is very important that only people who have been properly trained operate these machines. 

Which Legislation Applies To The Use of Abrasive Wheels?

The Provision And Use Of Work Equipment 1998 (PUWER) is the legislation that governs the use of abrasive wheels. According to the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive, this act requires that all equipment provided for use at work be: 

  • Suitable for the device’s intended use.
  • Safe for use by trained members of staff.
  • Maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate.
  • Accompanied by suitable health and safety measures. These measures include protective devices and controls. These health and safety measures normally include guarding, emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices.
  • used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses.

(UK HSE)

APT: Staffordshire’s First Aid Training Specialists

APT offers a range of courses, including asbestos awareness, fire marshal training and qualification, and first-aid courses in Stoke on Trent. Our training has been designed to provide people with all the skills they need to keep their places as safe and efficient as possible. 

Whether you want your staff to be able to deal with mental health issues, work with asbestos, or provide emergency first aid, we have the facilities to teach them. 

To learn more about any of our courses – including first aid at work training or our mental health first aid qualification – contact APT Health and Safety today. 

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