Posted on Friday, 21st February 2020
There are few disciplines in the construction industry more dangerous than operating abrasive wheels. These powerful pieces of equipment are integral to certain aspects of construction work. To ensure the safety of those working with and around the equipment, they must be handled with extreme care, with the right procedures in place. This guide looks at the training options available across a variety of different job roles which involve the operation of abrasive wheels…
Starting with the basics; abrasive wheels are revolving wheels designed for cutting and grinding materials such as metal and concrete. The term ‘abrasive wheels’ relates to the abrasive particles which have been bonded together to make the compound which the wheels are made of. You might also hear them referred to as grinding or cutting wheels. Abrasive Wheels can be fitted to different types of mechanical apparatus, like petrol saws and angle grinders, or otherwise known as handheld machines.
When operating abrasive wheels, the threat of the revolving wheel injuring operators, colleagues or pedestrians is substantial. Due to their power, design and material, the consequences of parts of the body coming into contact with the wheels can be life-changing, or even life-ending. The faster the wheel revolves, the more dangerous it becomes.
But this threat is far from the only hazard that operators will have to contend with when using this equipment. Other dangers include:
The only way to protect you and your colleagues from these dangers when operating abrasive wheels is for operators to have the correct training, equipment and PPE.
Abrasive Wheels training is a legal requirement for anyone operating this equipment in the workplace. Abrasive Wheels are extremely dangerous and the only way to reduce risk is through theoretical and practical training in operating the machinery.
There are multiple training options available depending on the needs of the worker. Factors such as the worker's responsibility, job role and equipment they handle will dictate which training is needed to perform their job safely. At ESS we provide a range of different courses to meet different on-site needs:
Abrasive Wheels Training with ESS
This course covers the basics in abrasive wheel health awareness, applicable to all staff who work with or around the equipment. This BAF-accredited course covers all of the essential training required by health and safety regulation to create a workplace culture of safe practise. The course explores:
This course will take half a day, with the certification valid for three years for participants who successfully complete the short theory test and attend the full training course.
This practical cutting and grinding course is made up of two sections: theoretical awareness training and practical training on the equipment. This first part of the training is the same as the Abrasive Wheels Awareness course listed above, with the inclusion of a unique second half of the day which provides learners with a practical session using the equipment for cutting and grinding. As well as the awareness theory test, participants will also be asked to complete a practical assessment on safe use.
Designed to give potential trainers the skills and knowledge to be able to train others in how to operate abrasive wheels safely. This two day course covers the essential operational requirements necessary for the role including:
In addition, learners will also develop a range of ‘Train the Trainer’ educational skills, such as teaching methods and lesson planning. Like the other ESS abrasive wheel courses, the certificate is valid for 3 years. All three courses that provide ESS certification upon completion are available for CITB grant funding, making the process of training staff much less expensive and off-putting for smaller organisations.
As well as our own courses, we also deliver versions of Abrasive Wheel Awareness and Practical Cutting/ Grinding which are accredited by NPORS.
The bulk of the content provided in both training courses is the same as the ESS alternatives, but are not eligible for funding. The main benefit of these NPORS courses is they have a five-year validation for their certification.
This training course is designed specifically for workers who will be operating a petrol driven cut-off saw, also known as abrasive saws or chop saws. Despite the name, these tools are technically not saws, they are essentially abrasive wheels which are handheld. This makes them much more convenient to move around building sites compared to the stationary wheel. However, this equipment has it’s own unique dangers which require additional training for operators.
This NPORS course covers the essentials of using cut-offs saws including:
We deliver our courses across the whole of the UK. On top on this, we also provide in-company training to reduce the time and financial burden on companies. To discuss our courses with a member of our team, why not speak to a member of our training team on 0115 8970 529. You can also email us at [email protected].
As well as training on the equipment itself, your staff may need Face Fit Testing to combat the dangers of air-born pollutants. Testing ensures workers have equipment that’s secure and provides the adequate protection needed for their job role. We also provide a Face Fit Train the Tester course, which provides learners with the necessary knowledge and practical experience to perform face fit tests to the qualitative method. This training is ideal for anyone who is responsible for health and safety on sites where RPE is necessary. To learn more about the ins-and-outs of this topic, you can check out our blog on Face Fit Testing, or our other entry on the dangers of COPD (lung disease) in the construction industry.
For a more detailed breakdown of the specifics of abrasive wheel health and safety, the HSA have an in-depth guide for operators. To find a full list of the training ESS can provide, check out our online course index.