Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The guard problem!

The theme of my last Blog was based around the premise that many operators have little or no common sense. The operator I mentioned in my previous Blog was using a 230mm angle grinder without any PPE or RPE and since he was also using the 230mm diameter angle grinder for cutting, the guard that was fitted to the machine was incorrect being only suitable for grinding (it was a type 27 depressed centre grinding guard), he was in more danger than he could possibly know.
This guard problem happens to be the cause of a current complaint of mine in respect of the perceived lack of action by a whole group of companies and organisations including many of the major power tool companies, a number of abrasive accessory manufacturers, the power tool manufacturers association, the British Abrasive Federation and indeed HSE. All of these organisations are obviously aware that it is essential to use an angle grinder that is fitted with a type 41/42 guard when using it for cutting, and indeed that this type of guard should have a dustless facility and be connected to a suitable dust collector if the operation continues for any more than just a few seconds. Yet no one has taken responsibility for telling, advising or training angle grinder users in this particular aspect of operator safety.
The power tool manufacturers in general (although there are exceptions) simply provide a type 27 guard with each new machine (their reasoning being that it is an angle grinder, even though the vast majority of 230mm angle grinders are used for cutting) and then they announce the availability of the alternative cutting guard in the owner’s handbook for that particular machine.
Apart for the difficulty of getting employers or their operators to change a guard on any machine, I am forced to ask the simplest of questions: ‘When was the last time you read an owner’s manual?’

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