Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and other people.
Misusing angle grinders as power saws increases the risk of serious injury or even death.
In one incident, an angle grinder fitted with a saw blade seriously injured an employee when the blade jammed while cutting an aluminium fuel tank. The jammed blade forced the angle grinder to push back, thrusting the exposed saw blade onto the operator.
As well as the danger from angle grinder pushbacks or kickbacks, the teeth or hardened tips on saw blades can become projectiles if they detach at high speed.
Angle grinders are not power saws
Angle grinders are not designed to operate as power saws because they:
- do not have sufficient guarding to protect the operator if the blade jams, disintegrates or kicks or pushes back onto the operator
- do not have retractable guards that provide the same safety as a power saw
Risk control measures
To reduce the risks associated with the use of angle grinders, risk control measures should include:
- using the right tool for the job. Never fit circular saw blades to an angle grinder
- ensuring employees receive information, instruction and supervision and are adequately trained in the safe use of angle grinders
- wearing appropriate hearing protection, safety glasses or a face shield when grinding. Flame-resistant clothing should be worn for hot work
- using only grinding discs of a type specified by the angle grinder manufacturer. If in doubt, check with the supplier or manufacturer’s user manual before fitting and using