Due to the sheer danger involved in using angle grinders, they shouldn’t be used unless you’ve exhausted all other possible options. Once you’ve confirmed that other tools won’t be able to accomplish the task, you should resort to the angle grinder, though you’ll have to follow a few guidelines to ensure that you operate it safely.
Along with severe injuries, there have even been fatalities caused by angle grinders, and even when you’re using these tools properly, a sudden failure can put you in danger. In this guide, we’re going to discuss a few different parts of angle grinder safety, including how you should use it, necessary protective clothing, and a lot more.
Choosing Your Angle Grinder
The first thing that you’ll need to do is choose the right angle grinder since various models will have different safety features. The most essential safety feature is the inclusion of a dead man’s switch, which will shut off the angle grinder if you aren’t actively holding a trigger or a power button.
You’ll also want to invest in an angle grinder that features an anti-kickback clutch to prevent the tool from kicking back at you. A handle that absorbs vibrations will also prevent long-term injuries to the operator and will also ensure that the angle grinder can be held more steadily.
Keep in mind that larger, more powerful angle grinders will typically be more dangerous than other ones because they’ll be more unwieldy. When you combine this with a higher power output that can increase the severity of kickbacks, then it’s easy to see why larger models are a lot more hazardous.
Preparing the Work Area
When you’re about to start using an angle grinder, you’ll want to take the time to closely analyze the workspace first. Take a look at the ground and get rid of anything that you can potentially slip or trip on. You’ll also want to ensure that there are no flammable materials that may end up getting ignited by the sparks.
You should also warn all nearby workers that you will be operating an angle grinder in the area and that they should remain well clear of you while you work.
Finally, ensure that the piece you’re working on is secured properly, and do a walk-around yourself to make sure that everything is in place.
Choose the Correct Disc
The disc that you use on your angle grinder has to be the right one for the job, or you can run into some problems. For example, if you use a grinding disc for cutting or vice versa, then you’ll significantly increase the likelihood of it shattering while in use and turning into several projectiles.
Shattered discs are one of the primary sources of injuries from angle grinders, and some discs can break even when they’re used correctly, so you’ll need to be extremely careful about which one you use. Also, consider the size of the disc and the kind of grinder that it is made for.
Since smaller angle grinders feature a higher RPM, then they will often be too fast for larger discs, increasing the stress on them and making them more likely to shatter. You should also ensure that the disc you’re using is suitable for the material that you’re working with.
Of course, when you’re attaching the disc to the angle grinder, be sure to follow the instructions to the letter, and don’t assume that the process will be the same is with other discs. You’ll have to use the right lock nut to keep it attached, or you run the risk of the disc wobbling as it spins.
Protective Equipment for Angle Grinder Safety
When working with tools such as an angle grinder, you’ll always need to wear protective equipment in case something does go wrong. While we all hope that nothing will, and even if there are no issues 99 out of 100 times, it only takes that one occurrence to seriously injure you, or worse.
The most important thing to wear when using an angle grinder is wrap-around high-impact eye protection. Make sure that it means ANSI safety standards, as that is the only way to confirm that the glasses have been tested to withstand high-speed impacts. Just because glasses look protective, it doesn’t mean that they are.
To take it a step further, we’d even recommend using a face shield to prevent facial injuries. Angle grinders are also extremely loud, outputting between 90 dB and 100 dB, so it’s essential to always wear Class 5 ear protection, and you may even layer them with earplugs.
Gloves are another crucial part of your safety gear, and you should try and find Class 5 gloves, which are designed to resist cuts. Make sure that the gloves fit you well so that you’ll have enough manual dexterity to work comfortably, but they should still be thick enough to protect you.
Safe Operation of an Angle Grinder
Now that we’ve covered the preparatory steps let’s discuss the safe use of an angle grinder. First off, you should never use an angle grinder one-handed. While operating these tools, your dominant hand should be holding the handle while the other one supports the weight of the machine.
While you operate the angle grinder, you’ll want to make sure that you stand off to the side of the tool so that it doesn’t kick back and hit you in the chest. When you first get started, you have to let the grinder get up to speed, and once it’s spinning, hold it against the piece without too much pressure.
If you exert too much pressure on the angle grinder, it can grab the piece that you’re working on, which will result in a kickback. Finally, make sure that you take breaks before your arms get too tired, as you may end up making mistakes otherwise.
Safely operating an angle grinder requires plenty of preparation as well as proper, one-on-one training. While this article is meant to help you operate one of these devices safely, it can’t make up for an actual training program. If you’re going to use an angle-grinder, ensure that you’re well-versed in its operation.