The Right Angle


The angle grinder is likely the most commonly used tool in our business, if not the most common certainly in the top two. We use handheld angle grinders in the field and facility shops to grind excess metal from welds, remove rust, and for special finishing operations. Since this tool is hand operated, the safety, efficiency, and quality of the work depend upon the ability and experience of the operator.  As with all tools, there can be expected a certain amount of risk involved while operating. The angle grinder is no different. Aside from potential injury, angle grinders generate sparks. When required obtain a hot work permit before use. Keep the work area clear of debris and flammable materials. DO NOT use in areas where there is combustible dust accumulation.  

Common Hazards  

  • High speed flying particles … a grinding wheel’s speed can be greater than a mile a minute

  • Grinding wheel coming apart

  • Inhaling dust and fumes generated

  • Explosion or fire from sparks and dusk generated by grinding

  • Sparks can ignite flammable or combustible materials nearby or below grinding operation

  • Electric shock from a frayed or defective power cord

  • Noise

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from repetitive use or when working in an awkward position

Common Incident Causes 

  • Using the wrong wheel for the job or grinder

  • Improper mounting of wheel or guard

  • Careless handling

  • Repetitive motion

  • Improper PPE use

  • Improper use of  the grinder

Critical Angle Grinder Wheel Issues 

  • Some wheels can be surprisingly delicate.  They can be easily damaged if handled carelessly.

  • Store new wheels carefully in a dry area close to the grinding operation.

  • When carrying a grinder, do it very carefully.

  • Take special care not to drop it or to bump it against anything.

  • Never use a wheel that has been dropped or received a heavy blow, even if there is no apparent damage.

  • Replace wheels that are badly worn or cracked.

The Right Wheel for the Right Job 

Always use the correct wheel for the machine’s size and speed, and the work to be performed.  

At Wachs we have two types of angle grinder: 

 - Small Angle Grinder 1.5” Maximum RPM-25,000

 - Large Angle Grinder 2” Maximum RPM -20,000 

When replacing wheels ensure: 

  • Wheel has no damage

  • Wheel is matched to the task

  • Max RPMs on the wheel does NOT exceed the grinders RPM.

  • Grinding wheel does NOT exceed the grinders capacity


For more safety information, please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!