WorkSafe Victoria has released a new guidance on the safe use of workplace angle grinders following 31 serious workplace injury reports over past 12 months.
The 31 serious injuries were among 117 injuries involving grinders of all types in the past year, which resulted in workers compensation claims.
WorkSafe Victoria manufacturing, logistics and agriculture division director, Ross Pilkington, said angle grinders had the potential to cause serious injuries.
“They are incredibly powerful machines as they are designed to be used on metal,” Pilkington said.
“They can easily cause life-threatening lacerations or, if an attachment breaks, can throw pieces of it into the eyes of the user or others who are nearby.
“Attachments must be matched to the machine they’re to be used on. If the machine operates at 15,000rpm using one rated to a lower speed increases the chance of it breaking and causing damage.”
WorkSafe’s new publication, Safe Use of Angle Grinders, identifies the potential hazards and consequences, and what can be done to prevent them.
In the past two months, 11 safety incidents with angle grinders have been reported to WorkSafe with eight resulting in injuries.
These incidents included severe lacerations to the hands, arms and legs some of which resulted in surgery, electrical shocks and fires caused by sparks that landed in rubbish or vehicles.
The Metropolitan Ambulance Service reported similar injuries from domestic settings, including a man who lost the sight of an eye.
“These are machines which must be used by people who are well trained, who have the job well set up and who understand the potential hazards and how to prevent them,” Pilkington said in the same statement.
“Employers have the principal duty to ensure the work is done safely and that the people doing it have the right equipment, including appropriate protective clothing, and that it is used.”
“Even then, people with considerable experience suffer injuries because angle grinders can kick back and injure the user, however it is essential the basics are in place,” he said.
Angle grinders are used in many occupations, but particularly in the metal fabrication industry which will be subject to a 12 months WorkSafe campaign from July 1.
To read WorkSafe Victoria Safe Use of Angle Grinders guide, click here.
To read safety tips about angle grinders, click here.