Abrasive Wheels

Human Focus offers the following e-learning courses under the abrasive wheels toolkit:

Abrasive Wheels - Introduction To The Health & Safety Principles

30+ minutes course
Aimed at All Staff Members – Awareness level

Course Approved By


Nearly half of all accidents and incidents involving abrasive wheels occur due to operator error or unsafe work practices. The hazards that abrasive wheels present include the risk of the wheel breaking and contact with the wheel. Other hazards caused by abrasive wheel operation include noise, dust, and vibration.

Abrasive wheel safety online training course explains the risks associated with abrasive wheels and offers practical solutions for minimising those risks. The course specifically covers the careful handling, operation, and maintenance of different kinds of abrasive wheels to prevent injury during their use.

The hazardous nature of abrasive wheel work makes workplace precaution and awareness vital. By law, workers employed to use or work near abrasive wheels must be provided safety training by their employer.

Note: This online abrasive wheel training course does NOT cover the use of specialized grinding machines.

What are Abrasive Wheels?

Abrasive wheels are powered wheels that are made up of small organic or inorganic abrasive particles that are bonded together using various substances.

An abrasive wheel is defined by:

  • Abrasive material used
  • Wheel structure
  • Wheel grade
  • Grit size
  • Bonding material used

These wheels are used in multiple tools and manufacturing processes ranging from grinding to cutting. They are an integral part of equipment such as surface grinders and are used during all stages of a work process.

Different abrasive wheels possess different characteristics and are suitable for specific tasks. They have different properties and present various hazards when they are being handled or operated.

It is vital to select the correct abrasive wheel for the job and use it in the way that it was intended to be used.

Nature of the Hazard

The hazards associated with abrasive wheel work depend on the equipment, working environment, and materials being worked on. Some potential risks include:

  • Eye injuries
  • Amputated fingers
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Head injuries
  • Foot injuries

The potential hazards surrounding the use of abrasive wheels are highly dependent on the type of equipment being operated, the working environment, and the material one is working with.

1. Touching the abrasive wheel

The accidental touch of an abrasive wheel can result in severe damage to the skin. Grinding and cutting tools cause serious injuries, if a worker comes in close contact with them.

This underscores the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) for anyone operating an abrasive wheel or working near one. Employees must also be provided with proper training on how to use any PPE provided.

2. Bursting

The bursting of the abrasive wheel can be fatal for the operator or anyone within the vicinity. The risk of an abrasive wheel bursting is higher with new wheels. The use of appropriate control measures, such as limiting the speed that the wheel is turning based on the wheel being used, can help minimise the risk.

3. Sparks

Abrasive wheels often generate sparks while in use. This has caused fires and even explosions in situations where the work area has not been kept ventilated and clean. It is the employers’ duty to provide a clean, ventilated environment, and the right PPE to avoid such incidents.

RoSPA approved abrasive wheel training online by Human Focus provides a thorough understanding of these hazards and the controls necessary to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents.

Abrasive Wheel Training Legal Requirements

Employers must ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for the purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using work equipment, and risks which such use may entail and the precautions to be taken.

  • The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 regulates noise levels, stating that employers must protect workers from the hazard of noise. The law outlines safe limits for noise exposure – anyone exposes to noise exceeding 85dB must wear hearing protection
  • The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 protect workers from the risks associated with exposure to vibration, establishing action and limit values for hand-arm vibration (HAV) and whole-body vibration

Employer & Employee Duties

Employers are legally bound to maintain equipment and safety procedures and to keep workers up to date regarding abrasive wheel safety.

Employer duties include:

  • Conducting risk assessments and putting in place controls to minimise the risk of abrasive wheels accidents and incidents from occurring
  • Providing information, training, and instruction in regards to how to safely operate abrasive wheels
  • Providing employees with safe tools and equipment, including abrasive wheels and the PPE needed to work safely with them
  • Ensuring anyone who operates abrasive wheels is competent
  • Ensuring exposure limits to noise and vibration are not exceeded

Employees also have a legal duty to conduct their work safely in a way that does not create undue risk to themselves or others.

Employee duties include:

  • Using equipment, such as abrasive wheels and their safety devices, as their employer has instructed and trained them to do so
  • Keeping their employer informed of any problems or issues that they identify
  • Co-operating with their employer, and others, to help meet the legal requirements for health and safety
  • Following any safe systems in place, such as inspection regimes

Accredited abrasive wheel training provided by Human Focus will help to support employers and employees meet their legal responsibilities in respect to abrasive wheel use.

Useful Links

Frequently Asked Questions

Is abrasive wheel training mandatory?

Under UK law, it is mandatory for those who use abrasive wheels at work to be provided with the information, instruction, and training to do their job safely. This includes providing training to prevent the hazards of the abrasive wheel itself, as well as associated hazards, such as noise and vibration.

What does abrasive wheel training cover?

Abrasive wheel training provides a basic introduction to the health and safety principles applied to the use of abrasive wheels. It explores how one can set up, use, and care for these tools.

Because the range and use of abrasive wheels is extensive, this course only provides a general introduction. More specific safety precautions and risk assessments will always be required. Before starting one should always familiarise employees and employers alike with risk assessment and prevention procedures.

What is the main cause of accidents and injuries involving abrasive wheels?

The Health and Safety Executive states that half of the abrasive wheel accidents occur due to unsafe procedures or operator errors. Abrasive wheel training online can contribute to avoiding these kinds of accidents.

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