Abrasive wheel grinders are functional tools. Used to remove metal from flat and cylindrical surfaces, abrasive wheel grinders are available in two types – bench or pedestal grinders that are fixed and portable tools that are used for repair and maintenance jobs. There is also more than one type of grinder design. On some, the abrasive wheels are mounted so only the exposed flat side is used for grinding. Other machines are designed so that the grinding is done on the circumference of the wheel. Some grinders also have wire brush or buffing wheel attachments.

However, careless operation of these tools can injure hands, fingers, eyes, and respiratory systems. Each year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) find many abrasive wheel grinder violations. The most common violations and serious hazards are failing to properly adjust the safety guards and the work rests. A wheel that fragments at high speed can cause severe personal injury and possibly death.

Workers may not be aware of the hazards of abrasive wheel grinders. While these machines may have flat surfaces, they are cutting tools. And, depending on the operation and equipment, the wheels can revolve at over 20,000 rpm. A worker does not want to make contact with something going at that rate of speed.

This “Client Handout” provides small business owners a means of identifying potential problem areas with the use of bench and pedestal-mounted abrasive wheel grinders. Any question answered “No” should be thoroughly investigated and corrective actions taken.

Questions Yes  No  N/A 
Are procedures and policies written that cover abrasive wheel grinders?       
Are workers trained in the safe and effective way to use each machine?       
Is the work rest used and kept adjusted to within 1/8-in (0.3175cm) of the wheel?      
Is the adjustable tongue on the top side of the wheel kept adjusted to within 1/4-in (0.6350cm) of the wheel?      
Do side guards cover the spindle, nut, and flange and 75 percent of the wheel diameter?      
Are bench and pedestal grinders permanently mounted?       
Are goggles or face shields always worn when grinding?       
Is the maximum RPM rating of each abrasive wheel compatible with the RPM rating of the grinder motor?       
Are fixed or permanently mounted grinders connected to their electrical supply system with metallic conduit or other permanent wiring methods?       
Does each grinder have an individual on and off control switch?       
Is each electrically operated grinder effectively grounded?      
Are all new abrasive wheels visually inspected and tested before they are mounted?       
Are dust collectors and powered exhausts provided on grinders used in operations that produce large amounts of dust?       
Are splash guards mounted on grinders that use coolant to prevent the coolant from reaching the employee?      
Is cleanliness maintained around grinders?       


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