Safety Spotlight: Abrasive Wheels, Hand Arm Vibration, & Noise at Work

As part of August’s Hazard of the Month, Equipment, we’re highlighting three key areas: Abrasive Wheels, Hand Arm Vibration, and Noise at Work.

Abrasive Wheels

Woman using an abrasive wheelIn nearly half of all accidents involving abrasive wheels, the cause is due to an unsafe system of work or operator error. Abrasive wheels inherently carry the risk of breakage, so in order to keep the number of breakages to a minimum users must implement the correct safety measures.

In order to minimise the risk of breakage and subsequently injury, there are multiple safety measures that need to be considered:

  • Examination: 
    • After transportation, wheels should be carefully unpacked, cleaned with a brush and examined for possible damage in transit.
    • Use the ‘ring test’ – tap the wheels (must be dry and sawdust-free) with a light, non-metallic implement – if it sounds dead, it should not be used. Heavy wheels should be supported on a clean hard floor for the ring test while light wheels should be suspended from their hole on a finger or small pin. Not practicable for the following wheels due to their size and shape:
      • small wheels (100 mm diameter and smaller)
      • plugs and cones
      • mounted wheels
      • segments
      • plate-mounted wheels
      • inserted nut disc and cylinder wheels
  • Handling:
    • All abrasive wheels are relatively fragile – the following rules should be followed to avoid chipping, cracking and breakage:
      • Handle with care
      • Do not roll unless unavoidable, in which case only do so on a soft, resilient floor surface
      • Use trucks or conveyors if cannot be carried by hand
      • Stack carefully on trucks to prevent them from toppling
      • Do not pile heavy objects on top of the wheels
  • Storage:
    • Wheels must be stored in a dry room and not be subject to extreme temperatures.
    • Suitable racks, bins or compartmented drawers should be used
    • Provide support when wheels placed on edges to avoid rolling
  • Speed:
    • You should never operate new abrasive wheels at speeds (in rpm) in excess of that marked on the wheel – this is one of the main causes of wheel breakage.
    • The centrifugal force, the main cause of wheel bursts, is the square of the speed- therefore doubling the speed increases the stress in the wheel and the risk of the wheel bursting fourfold.

Learn more about how to stay safe when using abrasive wheels with our Abrasive Wheels online training. This course is suitable as an introduction or a refresher for anyone who works with abrasive wheels. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘equip10’!

Hand Arm Vibration

Man using a circular sawHand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is caused by the use of hand-held power tools and can have serious consequences to health. While preventable, if damage is done it is permanent, so it is vital to remain vigilant and ensure the proper control measures are in place to reduce the risk.

Employers have a legal duty to assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand arm vibration as much as is possible. Some of the ways you can control the risks of HAVS include:

  • Assess who is at risk of HAVS by surveying your workforce – find out who is exposed, what is causing the exposure, and how long they use the equipment for
  • Find out if any of your workers are already experiencing tingling or numbness, or have confirmed cases of HAVS or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, so you can take steps to avoid their symptoms getting worse
  • Look for ways of working that avoid or reduce the need to hold vibrating equipment
  • Check vibration emissions when purchasing or hiring new equipment – avoid types with higher vibrations when lower vibration options are available
  • Maintain equipment according to manufacturer instructions
  • Plan your work schedules to minimise exposure to vibration
  • Introduce workstations that help to avoid uncomfortable positions
  • Providing warm, dry clothing to help employees maintain good blood circulation

Make sure you and your employees understand the dangers of using vibration and how to mitigate them with our Hand Arm Vibration online training. This course is suitable for those who use vibration tools and those who supervise them. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘equip10’!

Noise at Work

Infographic summarising how to identify if you have a noise problemExcessive noise at work can cause workers to suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus, and employers have a duty by law to protect their employees hearing through eliminating or reducing risks from exposure to noise.

But how do you know if you need to take action? You might have a noise problem at your workplace if any of the below apply:

  • The noise is intrusive – noise is unavoidable and present for most of the day
  • Your employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2 m apart for at least part of the day
  • Your employees use noisy powered tools or machinery every day for more than half an hour
  • You work in a noisy industry
  • There are noises due to impacts (such as hammering, pneumatic impact tools etc), explosive sources such as cartridge operated tools or detonators, or guns

If you have identified noise as a hazard in your workplace, you should follow this up with an appropriate risk assessment and control measures.

Learn more about the dangers of noise at work and how to utilise risk assessments to reduce these with our Noise at Work online training. This course it suitable for all employers and employees who work in a noisy environment or with noisy equipment. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘equip10’!

Abrasive Wheels, Hand Arm Vibration, and Noise at Work. are essential tools in ensuring your workers use equipment safely. Make sure you don’t miss out on our 10% off deal on these courses, available until the end of August. Simply enter the code ‘equip10’ at checkout to save!

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