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What Is An Abrasive Wheel?

Updated: Apr 28


worker cutting rail with a sthil saw

An abrasive wheel is a type of disposable equipment fitted to a tool in order to cut, grind, polish or sharpen another object. Abrasive wheels are made of coarse particles that are held together by a bonding material such as a resin or cement.


 

In this Article:



 

Abrasive Wheels - What are they for?


Abrasive wheels are available as a handheld or bench mounted tool and are used to perform grinding, cutting, sanding, polishing and finishing. It is a very common tool but it can be dangerous to use and is the cause of many accidents in the workplace due to unsafe practices and errors.


Our abrasive wheels course online will provide you with all the necessary information you need to correctly work with the abrasive flap wheels and grinding wheels, the hazards and risks and precautions you should take. You will receive a certificate upon completion of the training.


 

Types of Abrasive Wheel


There are different types of abrasive wheels used in many tools and designed for specific tasks and materials. Here are the most common:


Straight Wheels - Generally used for cylindrical, centreless, and surface grinding operations mostly used in workshops.


Cylinder Wheels - Typically used in the transportation and toolroom industries to remove generous amounts of material from a spinning workpiece, to a high accuracy.


Brush Wheels - A type of abrasive wheel with a meta wire brush usually used to remove rust and corrosion.


Tapered Wheels / Flap Disk - Similar to a straight wheel with a depressed centre that tapers outward towards the centre of the wheel, commonly used on angle grinders in order to finish surfaces.


Straight Sided Cut-Off Wheels - Used to cut through tough material such as steel, commonly used in construction applications.


 

Machines that use Abrasive Wheels


man using an angle grinder

There are many different tools and pieces of machinery that use abrasive wheels. Each machine plays a crucial role in industrial and manufacturing processes, with abrasive wheels enhancing their functionality and efficiency.


Tool and Cutter Grinding Machines - Utilized for the sharpening and shaping of milling cutters, tool bits, and other cutting tools.


Cylindrical Grinders - Designed for shaping the external surface of objects, suitable for objects that have a central rotation axis.


Surface Grinding Machines - Employed for achieving smooth finishes on flat surfaces using a spinning abrasive wheel.


Bench Grinders - Common in workshops, these are used for tasks such as tool sharpening and metal shaping.


Angle Grinders - Versatile handheld tools used for cutting, grinding, and polishing a variety of materials including metal and stone.


 Grinders - These machines use two rotating wheels to grind away material from workpieces without the need for centring.


Jig Grinders - Specialized for precision grinding of jigs, dies, and fixtures, these machines use abrasive wheels for fine detailing.


Chop Saws and Cut-off Machines - Typically used to cut through metal or concrete, employing abrasive wheels for the cutting process.


Floor Grinders - Large, walk-behind machines with abrasive wheels for grinding and polishing floors.


Polishing Machines - Used primarily for buffing or polishing surfaces, these may use abrasive wheels to achieve a fine surface finish.


 

What Are Abrasive Wheels Characteristics


An abrasive wheel typically consists of abrasive particles bonded together using various substances. There are two primary categories of bonding agents: inorganic and organic.


Different characteristics of abrasive wheels include

Abrasive Material- This refers to the type of abrasive material used in the wheel’s construction.


Grain/Grit Size - This denotes the size of the abrasive particles, ranging from very coarse to very fine.


Grade - This indicates how firmly the bond holds the abrasive grains. Grades vary from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’, denoted by letters from A (extremely soft) to Z (extremely hard).


Structure - This pertains to the wheel’s porosity level. A higher number indicates greater porosity.


Bond Type - This specifies the type of bonding material used in the wheel’s construction.


 

What is abrasive wheels training?


A snippet of the abraisive wheels regulations showing the particulars of training requirements

Abrasive Wheel training is a requirement under the Health and Safety at work act in order to minimize the risk of accident and injury. Abrasive Wheel Training is aimed to give the learner an understanding of the different types of abrasive wheels and their uses. It should also cover the importance of inspecting and testing, mounting and adjustment and emergency procedures in the case of an accident.


Abrasive Wheel Training should cover the following topics:


  • Anatomy of abrasive wheels

  • Dangers of abrasive wheels

  • Abrasive wheels safety

  • Abrasive wheels markings

  • Safe speeds

  • Storage and handling

  • Checking and testing

  • Inspections

 

Our Abrasive Wheels Training Course


Abrasive wheel training course card

Once you have successfully completed our abrasive wheels online course and passed the final assessment which ensures you have a thorough understanding of the material, you will instantly receive an abrasive wheels training certificate.


This is proof that you have completed the abrasive wheels training course and are able to apply your new skills to the job. It is a legal requirement to complete abrasive wheels training online before you can use the tools in the workplace.


 

How Long Does Abrasive Wheel Training Last?


The current industry standard is that abrasive wheel training should be refreshed every 3 years minimum to ensure all employees stay up to date and stay safe when working with the abrasive wheels in the workplace. 


There is no legal set amount of time in which abrasive wheels training lasts. However, it is largely advised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that the training should be renewed regularly and in certain instances such as the arrival of new equipment or a change in working conditions.


 

Which Legislation Applies to the Use of Abrasive Wheels?


There are also various abrasive wheels regulations put into place in the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act 1998 (PUWER). All UK businesses including self employed people must comply with the regulations or they may be fined if found to be breaching the law. This legislation protects workers and keeps them safe when working with dangerous tools and equipment.


The abrasive wheels regulations state that anyone who uses these tools must have a training certificate, be deemed competent, wear protective equipment and follow COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.


The PUWER act also ensures that the abrasive wheels in workplaces are regularly maintained and inspected, suitable for its intended use and only used by trained employees.


a risk assessment

 

Abrasive Wheels Risk Assessment


Safety measures are essential when working with abrasive wheels hse and a risk assessment needs to be regularly taken to identify any potential hazards or issues, implement safety procedures and reduce the risk of injury. There are 5 steps in a risk assessment:


  1. Identify any hazards Abrasive grinding wheels revolve at extremely fast speeds which can cause hazards such as mechanical, fire and heat, electricity, noise, dust and vibration. Employees need to be aware that loose clothing or jewellery can get caught in the machine which can cause injuries. Flying debris, sudden movements and defective abrasive wheels can also cause injuries and the risks need to be assessed and eliminated.

  2. Determine who can be harmed and how Not only can the wheel harm the operators but it is also at risk of injuring workers in close proximity due to flying debris, dust and noise. Precautions must be made to protect employees and visitors.

  3. Evaluate risks Risk of injury is always high with the involvement of abrasive wheels and so precautions and safety measures must be put into place to reduce the risk. These include:


  • Only fully trained employees must operate the machinery

  • No loose clothing or jewellery

  • Stable footing with no overreaching or risk of slipping

  • Machine guards must always be in place and never removed

  • Designated area to avoid flying debris from hitting workers

  • Wheels must be inspected before every use

  • Fire extinguisher nearby

  • Protective equipment must be worn such as face masks, safety shoes, ear protection and gloves


4. Document findings and implement procedures

Employers must document all risks and hazards found along with the relevant           precautions taken and safety measures put into place to reduce or eliminate the risks           of injury and errors.


       5. Review risk assessment and update if required

          The risk assessment for abrasive wheels needs to be regularly reviewed, especially           when new equipment has arrived or any other changes have occurred in the           workplace such as new employees, different procedures or if an accident has           happened. The safety measures may have to be updated to maintain the best           practices in the workplace.


6. Appropriate Training

          The online abrasive wheels course is also essential as employees will learn how to           perform a risk assessment, will understand how to identify any hazards and know           which safety measures to put in place to heighten the safety and reduce risks in the           workplace.


 

Abrasive Wheels Marking


All abrasive wheels will be marked with important information as required by the BS EN 12413 and BS ISO 525 British Standards. This includes:

Wheel specification – this indicated which type of abrasive material the wheel is made of, the grit size, grade and the bond type.


  1. Trademark and test record – the wheel’s manufacturer name and proof that the wheel has been tested and meets the safety standards.

  2. Expiry date – organic bonded wheels have an expiry date of 3 years from the date of manufacture.

  3. Code number – a traceable number that provides the manufacturing details of the wheel.

  4. Dimensions – the wheel’s dimension in mm will be clearly marked on the wheel. Three numbers will provide the wheel’s diameter, the thickness and the hole size.

  5. Speed stripes – all wheels with a diameter bigger than 80mm must provide a maximum operating speed. The colour coded stripes on abrasive wheels is called a speed strip and indicates the different speeds available:

Colour

Speed

Blue

50m/s

Yellow

60m/s

Red

80m/s

Green

100m/s

Blue/Yellow

125m/s


All abrasive wheels in the workplace must have all of the required markings clearly indicated to ensure employees are provided with safe and suitable work machinery that is regularly tested. Employers must also make sure that the abrasive wheels are only used for their intended purpose and within the design specifications to ensure all work is completed correctly and safely.


Conclusion


a chop saw cutting steel reinforcement

There are many different types of abrasive wheels including grinding wheels, polishers and abrasive flapper wheels that are used to achieve various results. Abrasive wheels are an extremely dangerous piece of machinery and so it is a legal requirement for employees to complete a training course to be able to use the tool.


There are online training courses available and you can also search for “abrasive wheels training near me” to find local onsite training for a practical course hosted in accredited centres. It is so important to receive the training and perform regular risk assessments to ensure the correct safety measures are put into place to reduce the risk of injury when using abrasive wheels at work.


 

a link to an abrasive wheel training course

 

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