Why have abrasive wheel and disc safety training?

Why have abrasive wheel and disc safety training?

I think this is a reasonable question that may be asked by an operator, supervisor, safety officer or manager. Why should an operator of equipment that uses abrasive products, having never had an injury, have training? For a supervisor or manager the time taken to have training is an expense in lost production. I as a trainer would freely admit that the majority of delegates know how to use the machine that they use for cutting, grinding, sanding or polishing. The safety officer will often put safety procedures in place in the form of risk assessments that if followed should prevent the risk of injury, serious or otherwise.

Each year thousands of people attend accident and emergency hospital wards with injuries that have been sustained when using equipment that uses abrasive products. When we run training courses we often find that at least one or two of the delegates have been injured sometime in the past when using abrasive products. Some delegates can tell of friends and collegues who in the past have been seriously injured. Then their are those that will tell us of a near miss that could have ended in tradegy.

Typical injuries include:

  • Small particles of abrasive or work material that hit the eye.
  • Flying debris that causes facial damage.
  • Wounds to the head, hand and arms and the upper part of the leg from contact with a wheel or disc.
  • Burns from sparks setting fire to clothing.
  • Hearing loss due to excessive noise.
  • Damage to fingers and hands through excessive vibration.
  • Lung problems caused by dust contamination.

In every case, without exception, the injury was totally avoidable. In some cases it was the use of poorly designed, low standard or totally inappropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). In some cases a severe lack of proper preparation and risk assessment. For some it may be using poorly maintained machinery or abrasive products totally unsuitable for the job in hand.

Training should be about how to avoid the injuries described. Each injury is costly to the employer in lost production and can be devastating for the individual concerned. As a trainer I have never come across someone who has been injured when using the right PPE. Training should be about:

  • Preparation and risk assessment.
  • Undertstanding the hazards involved.
  • The right PPE.
  • How to avoid the dangers.

This blog contains the thoughts of Mike, one of our trainers.

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