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Abrasive Wheel Regulations Explained

Updated: Apr 24

a man using an angle grinder whilst wearing full ppe

What is an Abrasive Wheel?


An abrasive wheel is defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as “a wheel consisting of abrasive particles bonded together with various substances” such as resin or cement. The equipment is used to grind, cut, polish and sharpen materials and are used in many factories, workshops and industrial sites.

An abrasive wheel can be handheld or bench mounted and it is extremely dangerous to use as it can cause many accidents in the workplace due to incorrect practices and errors. The workers who use this tool must be fully trained and competent to ensure everyone stays safe during the task.



In this Article:


Abrasive Wheel Legislation


Abrasive wheel legislation was put into place to ensure both employers and employees comply with the rules to keep everyone safe when using the wheels.

PUWER 1998


The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations act 1998 (PUWER) regulates how abrasive wheels and other dangerous equipment should be used and maintained to ensure the safety of all workers. Workers must also follow COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

The PUWER act states all equipment must:

  • Be suitable for its intended use

  • Receive regular inspection and maintenance

  • Only be used by fully trained and competent workers

Health and Safety at Work Act 1998


The Health and Safety at Work Act 1998 is implemented in the workplace to ensure employers carry out their responsibilities to maintain the safety of all workers especially when performing dangerous tasks.

This regulation states “it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”. In particular, the “arrangements for ensuring safety and absence of risks to health” and “the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision”. 


The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992


The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 state that all employees that work with dangerous machinery must always wear PPE to protect their body. It also states that employees must receive the necessary information, training and instruction on how to wear the PPE correctly and safely.


3 workers and 1 supervisor having a conversation

Regulations that Apply to Employers


All of these regulations apply to employers in workplaces that use dangerous equipment including the abrasive wheel. Employers must comply with the rules to ensure workers are safe and protected at all times when using the wheel.

Employers are required to provide equipment that works and is fit for purpose and ensure that the equipment is regularly maintained by trained workers to prevent deterioration.

Employers must also ensure risk assessments are carried out to identify any hazards and implement certain safety measures which will increase the safety and prevent injury.

The main role of an employer is to ensure that all workers are healthy and safe at work. This includes providing their employees with the correct PPE and ensures they receive adequate training on how to wear it.


Regulations for Abrasive Wheel Manufacturers


Abrasive wheel manufacturers have legal requirements placed on them to ensure their products are safe. The manufacturers must follow the Health and Safety Act 1974 and the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 which state that all of their products must be tested and deemed safe to use and fit for purpose in the workplace.

Abrasive wheel manufacturers must also affix a marking to their products which declares it has been tested and is safe with a UKCA or CE marking as confirmation. Manufacturers will implement various safety designs to ensure their products are used as intended.

This can include:

  • Fibre Reinforcement

  • Safety Inserts

  • Fine Grit Centres

  • Steel Rings

  • Tape Winding


a construction worker sustains an eye injury in a laithe factory

Abrasive Wheel Hazards

Abrasive wheels come with many potential hazards if not used correctly or safely. The abrasive wheels spin very fast and release debris during use making it essential that workers follow safety procedures and wear the right PPE equipment to prevent risks of injury.

These are the most common hazards:

  • Dust and Fumes - Grinding can cause harmful particles to be released into the air which can cause health issues when inhaled.

  • Drawing in - Loose clothing such as sleeves or ties and even jewellery can get caught in the machine.

  • Impact injuries - When cutting or grinding, defective abrasive wheels can release debris which can hit people so it is vital that the wheel is regularly inspected and maintained.

  • Slips & Jolts - Workers can slip or perform a sudden movement which can cause cuts or abrasion injuries.

  • Vibration - The high speeds of the wheel causes continuous vibrations and if workers are constantly using the machine it can cause vibration syndrome which causes pain and blood flow loss.

  • Noise - The wheel is very loud and over a long period of time this can cause hearing loss.


Types of Abrasive Wheel Equipment


Abrasive wheels are used in many different machines to improve the functionality, efficiency and accuracy. These machines are most often used in manufacturing and industrial processes to cut and remove material.

Some of the different types of abrasive wheel equipment includes:

  • Angle Grinders – Used for abrasive cutting and polishing, angle grinders are handheld tools that have a selection of attachments and cutters available used on materials such as metal and stone to remove the excess.

  • Bench Grinders – A permanently installed grinder, this is mainly used in workshops to shape metal and sharpen tools.

  • Belt Grinders – Most commonly used on metal and other materials, the belt grinder is run over the material surface and used as a finishing and polishing tool which removes material and produces the desired finish.

  • Cylindrical Grinders – These are used to shape the outside of an object which must have a central axis of rotation such as tubes and rods and is suitable for various materials.

  • Jig Grinders – These are used to grind accurate holes into materials and create complex shapes. This machine has a high degree of precision.

  • Surface Grinders – These are used to remove material and expertly finish surfaces for a smooth result.

  • Tool and Cutter Grinders – Used to sharpen various tools such as cutters, tool bits and other tools with precision.


many different types of abrasive wheel on a workbench

Types of Abrasive Wheel

There are many different types of abrasive wheels used in various tools which are designed to perform specific tasks depending on the material.

These are the most common types of abrasive wheel:

  • Straight Wheels – Often found on bench grinders, they have 2 flat sides with a small hole in the centre used for a selection of grinding tasks such as surface and cylindrical.

  • Cylinder Wheels – These are used to remove excess material and achieve flat surfaces and are mainly used on vertical and horizontal spindle grinders.

  • Tapered Wheels – Commonly found on angle grinders to finish surfaces, this is similar to a straight wheel but is slightly wider at the centre.

  • Straight Cup Wheels – Mostly used in cutter grinders, this has a straight raised section around the wheel’s edge.

  • Dish Wheels – This is a unique shape that makes it perfect for cutting slots and small crevices. Mostly used in jig and cutter grinders, it has a flat centre in a cup shape.

  • Saucer Wheels – Similar to the dish wheel but flatter, this is used to grind milling cutters and twist drills.


Abrasive Wheel Markings


The BS EN 12413 and BS ISO 525 British Standards require that all abrasive wheels must be marked with important information including:

Trademark and Test Record – This provides the wheel manufacturer’s name and the record of when it was tested to ensure it is safe and fit for purpose.

Wheel Specification – This includes the type of abrasive material the wheel is made from, the grade, grit size and bond type.

Expiry Date – All abrasive wheels have an expiry date of 3 years after they are manufactured so the date written will be how long the wheel is able to be used for.

Code number – This is a traceable number that provides all of the essential details of that particular wheel’s manufacturing process.

Dimensions – The wheel’s dimension is provided in mm along with the diameter, hole size and thickness.

Restrictions of Use – This tells workers what the wheel should not be used for such as hand held machines or specific cutters.

Speed Strip (maximum operating speed) – Abrasive wheels all have a colour coded strip which highlights the maximum speed for different wheel types. All wheels with a diameter above 80mm must have a maximum operating speed.

The different colours signify these speeds:

  • Blue - 50m/s

  • Yellow - 60m/s

  • Red - 80m/s

  • Green - 100m/s

  • Blue/Yellow - 125m/s



Abrasive Wheel Training


Abrasive wheel training is legally required by all employees who use abrasive wheels to ensure their safety and prevent risks.

An abrasive wheel course should cover the following topics:

  • Abrasive wheel safety

  • Anatomy of abrasive wheels

  • Dangers of abrasive wheels

  • Storage and handling

  • Checking and testing

  • Abrasive wheels markings

  • Safe speeds and maximum speeds

  • Risk assessments

  • Inspections and maintenance

The abrasive wheel training will provide employees with all the necessary information and skills required to use the machinery correctly. Training also ensures employees are competent and will stay safe when using the wheels.


a link to an abrasive wheel training course




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