Must-know angle grinder safety tips
Grinding or cutting with an angle grinder presents some distinct dangers not found with other power tools. Follow these must-know angle grinder safety tips to minimize your risk .
Besides injury resulting from contact with abrasives at the working end of the tool, grinders can also cause burns and fire hazards due to the shower of sparks and hot cutoff pieces they drop at a user’s feet.
9 must-know angle grinder safety tips
The biggest risk from an angle grinder is an abrasive wheel or disk shattering and flying apart at high speed. The pieces can shoot out almost explosively like shrapnel. Proper use of the guards is the best defense against injury and one of the top must-know angle grinder safety tips. Guards should be positioned to direct sparks away from the user and the abrasives should never be spinning toward you.
For grinding, use a Type 27 guard. The back of the guard should be positioned between the grinding disk and the user’s body, including blocking any exposure to the front hand. Excessive downward force against the perimeter of the disk should be avoided and the maximum angle of the disk above the surface being ground should be 15 degrees.
For cutoff use, a Type 01 guard is required. This guard features an enclosed bottom to better contain pieces in the event the wheel breaks apart. It should also be pointed away from you. With the grinder held sideways, you should never be able to see the wheel. Thin cutoff wheels require that the feed pressure be carefully controlled and you never grind with the side of a cutoff wheel.
Test the condition of thicker grinding wheels by seeing if they ring when tapped. Most small grinding disks won’t ring. Neither will thin cutoff wheels. Instead, you must inspect them visually and then test them by running them up to speed with the grinder pointing away from you to feel for any unusual vibrations before putting the wheel or disk under load. Use only accessories approved for the speed of your tool.
Use an angle grinder with both hands for proper control. A rat-tail grinder body with an elongated rear handle is considered easier to grip securely than shorter models.
Some angle grinders have lock-on switches and others have dead-man switches that shut the tool off when you let go. With any switch type, a motor brake will stop the tool more quickly for added safety.
Choose a grinder with a mechanical clutch that disengages the drive gears if the grinder binds up, or a more advanced design that shuts the tool off if an inertial sensor detects a sudden jerk of the handle.
The spray of sparks emitted from a grinder contains tiny shards of steel and abrasive particles. Wear protective clothing and use a mask.
If your clothing is in the way of the sparks for very long, you risk being burned so place something between your body and the work to deflect the sparks away from you.
−By Michael Springer