Now, we are grinding to a halt. So to speak.
Over the last week, I have been going over a recent article in the November 2015 issue of Professional Safety magazine that discussed best safety practices when operating and working around an abrasive wheel grinder, which is so common in certain worksites where repairs and manufacturing occur. A safety auditor wrote this article, and put forth a top-10 list of best practices that should be in place in workplaces that have these grinders, to help minimize the numbers of incidents and injuries that occur with these machines, which are quite dangerous to use and cannot and should not be operated by just any worker.
#8: Give the Signs.
This best practice is related to an earlier practice which requested that the grinder wheel’s RPM rating be conspicuously shown near the machine. In this case, we go further, providing permanent signage near a grinder giving information about operation controls and conspicuous warnings about misuse or unsafe use of the machine. If you have proper training in place, the signage would apply to all workers who might be around the grinder, but also be a reminder to those authorized to operate the machinery to ensure that proper controls are always maintained. Permanent signage indiates an honest commitment by the company to promote safe practices, and is not just a fly-by-night response to a recent incident.
#9: Cleanliness is Next to ….
… Safety. Having clean surfaces around a worksite promotes safety, if for nothing else than to keep workers from inhaling dangeours particles or vapors. But having a clean workstation is especially important around grinders. A grinder produces dust particles and sparks, and if a worker lets dust accumulate around the work area or the machinery, one of those sparks could ignite the dust particles. Whenever practicable, a worker should clean up the dust around and on the machine to keep dust from accumulating.This might need to happen multiple times during each shift, depending on how much work is done.
#10. Don’t Stop Training.
Even those who are trained in the proper operation of your grinder, should always go through what might be called continuing education – or at least, reminders. This training should occur at least once per year, but more often if your staff turnover is high. If safety standards, regulations or practices change at any point, you should conduct a new training, even if you just had an annual session; and if you had an observation or inspection that was not “clean,” a training session would be a good idea. If problems or risky actions were witnessed, even if no incident occurred, that would be high time to have a training meeting to reinforce the safe practices before anyone else operates the grinder with similar behaviors and increases risk of an incident.
Following all of these best practices in your workplace will greatly enhance safety among your workers and greatly reduce the risks associated with operating an abrasive wheel grinder in your shop.