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Working With Grinders

Professional Safety Magazine 

An abrasive wheel grinder is one of the most common pieces of machinery. In 2014, OSHA cited 1,014 serious violations related to grinders, so it is critical to make sure you are up to standard. Grinders typically release airborne particles and, if the wheel of the grinder is defective, mounted incorrectly or misused, it could explode, causing permanent or fatal injuries to the user. The majority of injuries sustained from grinders involve loss of eyes, amputation of fingers, lacerations and concussions. To best reduce the risks involved, here are 10 best practices to follow:

  1. Display a list of trained people authorized to operate, mount & dress grinding wheels at or near the grinder. This will help limit the unauthorized use of the equipment.
  2. Document each time a new or used abrasive wheel is mounted, checking the wheel for cracks and other defects before each use. By recording the number of uses, you can gain a better understanding of the overall condition of the wheel and who conducted the inspections. It helps monitor compliance, and provides evidence of good faith effort by the employer in case of an injury.
  3. Permanently mark and exclusion zone on the floor around the grinder. This promotes self-regulation around the grinder. It visually alerts employees and visitors to the potential hazards and reminds employees to keep the area clear.
  4. Display the grinder’s RPM near the device. With the potential to shatter when used above recommended speeds, it is important to remind workers of the maximum RPM for the grinder.
  5. Install a cabinet containing safety glasses, a face shield & disinfectant wipes near the grinder. Having the required PPE available near the grinder encourages safe practices. The disinfectant wipes ensure clean PPE for every use.
  6. Install a safety gauge near the grinder. A safety gauge will help employees measure the clearances quickly and accurately before each use, helping maintain compliance.
  7. Conduct & document grinder inspections at least monthly. A competent person must conduct an inspection of the equipment, noting any defects or potential hazards.
  8. Display signs to remind employees of proper controls. In order to best enforce proper handling of the equipment, displaying a sign of general controls will help remind workers of the necessary steps to keep them safe.
  9. Maintain good housekeeping & cleanliness. Accumulated combustible dust can ignite, resulting in a serious hazard. Keeping the grinder and surrounding area clean will mitigate the risks of combustion and injury.
  10. Conduct training annually. It is important to hold annual meetings to cover changes in compliance, regulations, or based on inspection findings.

Following these guidelines will greatly reduce the risks involved when using grinders. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact The Integrated Group team at 425-822-8500 or

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