Tech Tip: Grind Safely

May 30, 2019
Making your workplace as safe as possible to minimize the risk of accidents should be a high priority.

Removal tools such as grinders and sanders can pose a significant danger if not used responsibly. “It goes without saying that accidents at work can be devastating to the individual and have significant consequences for the business and its bottom line. Therefore, it’s essential to reduce risks to make sure you’re operating as safely as possible,” says Harald Odenman, Product Marketing Manager at Chicago Pneumatic. 

But how do you limit the risks when using tools such as pneumatic grinders?

Read the user manual and safety instructions

Read the user manual and safety instructions for both the tool and the abrasive. They are in the box for a reason – to help you!

Check the airline set up

Correct air line installation is critical for using pneumatic tools safely. Here are some key points:

  • To secure the correct speed on your tool, you need to regulate the air pressure to 90 psi (6.3 bars).
  • Use an FRL to control pressure, lubricate, and clean the air.
  • Make sure you have a good, tight connection between the airline and the tool’s inlet. Use TEFLON tape or similar to help achieve this.

Use the right abrasives

1. Speed

Each abrasive disc can only cope with a certain peripheral speed and has a designated maximum operating speed (MOS). This is labeled directly on the abrasive or on the packaging and expressed in revolutions per minute (rpm). Compare the abrasive’s MOS with the tool’s speed and never exceed the maximum speed allowed for the abrasive.

“If the speed of the grinder exceeds the abrasive’s MOS then you risk becoming the target for randomly projected fragments traveling at about half the speed of a bullet from a pistol. You don’t need much imagination to realize the outcome of that!” says Odenman. 

2. Size

Use the right size abrasive for your tool. If the disc is too large:

  • You will not be able to attach the disc correctly or use the proper guard for this abrasive.
  • You risk the speed of the grinder exceeding the abrasive’s MOS, which could have the devasting consequences mentioned above.

Let’s put it simply: large abrasives are not made for small grinders.

3. Operation

We often see an abrasive being used for an application it isn’t built for. It may sound basic, but always use an abrasive designed for the job: i.e. only use a cutting wheel for cutting and a grinding wheel for grinding.

4. Storage

Abrasives will degrade over time if not stored appropriately and they also have a use-by date. Our advice: Throw away abrasives that have not been stored correctly or that have expired.

Follow the pneumatic grinder’s operating recommendations

All is explained in the video. Key points:

  • Consider the environment. Ventilate the area as much as possible and wear appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) for the job, including gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, steel toes, and dust masks.
  • Use the safety guard and ensure it is well positioned to provide maximum protection – this has been designed for a very good reason. Do NOT remove or alter the guard!
  • Check the workpiece is secure and well clamped.
  • Make sure that you have a stable operating position. Don’t stand on a slippery or unstable floor!
  • Run the tool at free speed for 30 seconds in a safe enclosed area to check it is operating as expected. If there are any abnormal vibrations, stop the tool immediately: it requires maintenance.
  • Never apply excessive force during work.
  • After switching off the machine, ensure that the abrasive has come to rest before putting down the tool.

“Use the tool for what it was designed for and always use high-quality abrasives,” advises Odenman. 

Information provided by Chicago Pneumatics  

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