Safety - The Devil is in the Details

Safety - The Devil is in the Details
Missing the Smallest Detail can Lead to a Grinding Wheel Accident.
You may have heard of the fable where the blacksmith missed putting one nail in a horse’s
shoe; the horse lost the shoe; the rider was an officer on his way to a major battle; the
officer missed the battle; the battle was lost and because the battle was lost so was the
war. All of this occurred because the blacksmith was careless. You don’t want to become
that blacksmith, do you?
Failing to pay attention to the smallest detail can lead to an accident. Below is a list of
classic examples.
❚ Failure to check a tool’s spindle or arbor for correct size. If the arbor is too big or
expands, it can break the strongest grinding wheel. If too small (or undersized), the
wheel can be out of round and/or balance.
Using the wrong type of flange or worn/damaged flanges can be unsafe. Using a
relieved flange on a threaded hole or an unrelieved flange on a straight hole can cause
a wheel to break. Worn/damaged flanges can cause wheel slippage, cut into a wheel
and cause it to break.
Tightening mounting flanges improperly. If tighten too much you can damage the
flanges, or if the flanges are too loose they may slip. Both conditions can cause wheel
breakage. It is important to follow the machine manufacturer’s recommendations or if
they are unavailable, check with ANSI.
Using grinding wheels not designed or manufactured to be a set (i.e. together without
spacers) can lead to wheel slippage, cross bending forces, balance problems and
breakage. Use wheels as a set ONLY when they are marked as set wheels.
Machine guards. There have been cases where:
1. The wheel guard was removed.
2. Metal guards were replaced with paper, cardboard, tin, wood or other unsuitable
3. During machine maintenance or when changing a grinding wheel, machine guards
have been reattached to the machine without all of the fasteners designed to hold the
guard to the machine. Instead of protecting the operator when a wheel breaks, the
guard becomes a projectile. Have you ever been struck with a machine guard?
4. Wheel guards have been altered (i.e. "cut away") to improve operator vision or to
remove machine weight. When a wheel breaks, the altered guard cannot properly do
its job of containing the wheel fragments.
5. Operators not properly adjusting tongue guards and/or work-rest on fixed-based
machines. Also, mounting grinding wheels on portable machines allowing the
grinding wheel to "hang" below the wheel guard. In order to function properly, guards
must be correctly adjusted.
❚ Not wearing your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It only takes a second to lose an
eye, toe or to receive a severe cut to the hand, face, etc. Your lungs and hearing are very
important - protect them. Wear your PPE no matter the size of the job.
❚ When using a reducing bushing, know and follow the rules. Use only bushings
recommended by the wheel or tool manufacturer. Don’t mount wheels too big for the
machine, bushings too wide for the wheel, or bushings that interfere with the
mounting flanges.
❚ As grinding wheels wear down to smaller diameters, often machine speed in
Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) is increased to maintain the wheel’s Surface Feet Per
Minute (SFPM). Making this adjustment too soon or failing to reset the machine’s speed
when a new wheel is mounted can lead to a wheel over-speed and breakage.
Not properly maintaining the tools or equipment. Equipment failure due to poor
maintenance is a common cause of wheel breakage.
Use the correct air pressure or electric current for the tool. Wheel breakages have been
caused by over-speed of a tool. Excessive air pressure and electric current can cause a
tool to over-speed. Use properly set air regulators and electric current from proper
Check to see if the wheel and machine match. Don’t just place any abrasive wheel on
any machine you can mount it on.
Store and handle wheels correctly. All grinding wheels are breakable. Many grinding
wheels contain organic compounds and can be damaged if exposed to severe weather
conditions. Follow ANSI storage guidelines.
Don’t abuse the wheel. Common abuses are aggressive in-feed/grinding causing the
wheel or machine to stall, mechanical impacts on the wheel, improper mounting,
excessive speed, using the wrong surface of the wheel (i.e. side grinding on a straight
wheel, etc.) and just being careless with the tool or wheel.
Above are just a few of the details people have failed to notice. Pay attention to those
small details, don’t daydream on the job. Knowing and following the details of the use,
care and protection of abrasive wheels can prevent accidents. ANSI B7.1 can guide you to a
safer grinding wheel future. Saint-Gobain Abrasives provides this important document to
its customers at no cost. It is part of our commitment to abrasive safety!
For additional information on this topic or if you need any other abrasive safety
information, please review ANSI, OSHA and all literature provided by the abrasive wheel
and machine manufacturer. You may contact the Saint-Gobain Product Safety
Department at (508) 795-2317, Fax (508) 795-5120 or contact your Saint-Gobain Abrasives
representative with any safety related questions.
Roger Cloutier
Senior Product Safety Engineer
Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Inc.
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