Abrasive wheels can be extremely dangerous, which is why anybody operating abrasive wheels must undergo the correct training, and certain legal requirements must be met.
If you or your employees operate abrasive wheels, then this post is for you. Keep reading to learn more about abrasive wheels, and what legal requirements you need to meet in order to operate abrasive wheels.
What Are Abrasive Wheels?
Abrasive wheels are wheels, discs, cylinders, or cones that consist of abrasive particles. In abrasive wheels, the abrasive particles (grit) have been bonded together using organic or inorganic substances, for example, resin.
They are powered wheels commonly used in grinding machines and are defined by the grade of the wheel, the wheel structure, the grit size, the abrasive material and the coating material.
You’ll find abrasive wheels are common in the industry and are used for a wide range of purposes, whether it be for grinding, cutting, or dressing. Abrasive wheels are used on a wide range of materials.
Abrasive wheels can even be used for cutting materials, as well as polishing, sanding, and finishing.
Whether abrasive wheels are used to modify surfaces or to prepare surfaces, they can be very dangerous if handled by untrained workers.
What Are the Abrasive Wheels Regulations and Legal Requirements?
There’s a reason that there are so many regulations and legal requirements for handling abrasive wheels - and that’s simply because they can be very dangerous.
Eye injuries are a common hazard with abrasive wheels - if the correct goggles aren’t worn, workers may experience eye damage, and in some cases, blindness.
This is because the grinding motion can loosen particles that fly directly into the eye - and in some cases, the level of speed may cause the wheel to disintegrate, sending metal flying into random directions.
It’s also very dangerous to touch an abrasive wheel in motion - they can revolve at speeds of 10,000 feet per minute, and making contact with an abrasive wheel at a high speed can not only be painful but can do some serious damage.
The only way to reduce risk is by training staff in the best possible way, using both practical training and theoretical training.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act of 1998 (also known as PUWER) require all tools and associated equipment to be suitable for the purpose it’s intended for.
The act also requires that tools are sufficiently maintained to ensure that they are safe to use. Training is also a key part of the act - anybody that uses the equipment should have a solid understanding of the tool, and be fully trained to use it.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations Act
The Management Of Health and Safety at Work Regulations Act requires that all employers assess any risk to protect the safety of themselves and their employees.
They should also communicate any relevant information related to the assessment to the employees.
The Control of Vibration and Noise at Work Regulations Act
The 2005 acts are related to noise and vibration levels and regulate the exposure to high levels of noise and excess vibrations.
Workers in the industry are often exposed to over 85 decibels - and legally should have access to and wear hearing protection, and have access to a scheme of audiometric testing.
If you own a business that operates abrasive wheels, you should provide quieter tools to try and reduce exposure to harmful levels of noise. You must also choose methods and tools that lower exposure to heavy vibrations.
Any employee exposed to vibration must be assessed, often by using vibration measurement. If an employee is exposed to vibration regularly, they may require regular health checks.
The Electricity at Work Regulations Act
The Electricity at Work Regulations Act of 1999 states that all electrical equipment should have protective divides to prevent them from overloading.
To prevent safety issues, electrical devices should be regularly inspected and maintained, so any breakdowns are expected.
Portable Appliance Tests (PAT) should be carried out regularly - the frequency is determined by the type of equipment, how often it’s used, and the environment in which it’s used.
To ensure that they are safe to use, portable appliances with abrasive wheels require a PAT at least every three months.