Noise management: Angle grinder

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All documents issued prior to 1 July 2017 were issued by the former Department of Commerce. Documents listed here are the latest versions available, but may be subject to review. For more information on this document, please contact online@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

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Employee / workerEmployer

Angle grinders are used extensively in the metalworking and panel beating areas and can be used for wood carving when equipped with an "Arbortech" woodcarving disc. Other accessories such as polishing pads, sanding discs and wire wheels can be fitted to the tool making it extremely versatile.

All angle grinders tested since 1984 exceed 85 dB(A) free running and therefore require the use of hearing protectors.

Maintenance

  • Ensure bearings and brushes are in good operational order. 
  • Ensure blade guard is securely fitted and not rattling. 
  • Choose the correct disc for the task - a worn or out of round disc is not just unsafe, but produces more noise than one in good condition.

Noise control

  • Dampen the vibration of the material being ground or cut. For example: clamp as close as possible to work area. 
  • Where possible use tool outside - beware of noise annoyance to adjacent areas. 
  • Line surfaces adjacent to grinding bay with acoustic absorption materials to reduce reflected sound. Use fibreglass insulation faced with perforated metal. 
  • Consider using mobile screens around the work area to reduce the sound transmission. Extensive supervision may also be necessary with these tools. 

Operator control

  • Use alternative tools for specific tasks. For example: Metal cutting - use power hack-saw, guillotine, hand shears, and hand-held reciprocating saws. 
  • Do not use excessive pressure (forcing the tool through the work), particularly when cutting sheet metal. 
  • Maintain arms length distance between grinder and ear. This helps minimise noise exposure. 

Alternatives

  • Replace old worn out angle grinders with 'quieter or newer units'. The noise level of 100 mm Angle Grinders when 'free running' for example can vary from 95 to 100 dB(A). This is dependent on factors such as bearing condition, gearbox wear and the age of the tool. Some of the better manufacturers can supply noise level data on the performance of the tool. This information can be requested under section 23 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
  • Where possible use bench grinders. 

Adapted from the Noise Control Manual for Schools with the permission of the Education Department of Western Australia

 

WorkSafe
Fact sheet
Last updated 14 May 2014

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