Monday, February 15, 2010

Safety issues - are we too paranoid?

A recent issue posted on the AZ Builders forum:

"I'm surprised in the Feb 2010 newsletter it shows a DeWalt grinder being used with a slitting wheel to cut a piece of sheet metal. It appears the grinder has no guard. Is this method considered safe? If that wheel shatters there could be serious injuries. Grinders are rather dangerous and removing guards seems wrong."

Some responses:

"Yes, removing the guard will make the tool more dangerous. It is a risk I am willing to take because with the guard on, I would not be able to do even 1/10 of the things I do with my grinder. On the flip side, it forces me to always be aware of the dangers and use better safety gear such as a full shield over glasses.

Each summer, I wear out more than 50 zip discs and at least 10 large grinder discs, so my grinder sees a lot of action.

Even though a good face shield will stop an exploding zip disc (never seen one, though), I am always aware of the dangers and do not place my face over "the line of fire".

Choosing to remove the guard is a personal choice, and I will never use a grinder with a guard. If you choose to do the same, spend your $$ and get a good pair of goggles as well as a full face shield.


"Guards.....come on really we are backyard hackers."

"Although safety is an important factor to keep in the front of one's mind at all times, each of us is responsible to guard our own safety, too.

Too many devices designed to keep us "safe" may also cause us to be even more complacent, thereby actually increasing the hazards.

So, as with all things you buy, read the instructions, heed the warnings, but ultimately how you use that tool is up to you. Be aware that any modifications to those tools may increase safety hazards."

That small, black housing underneath the handle is the guard designed to protect the user from flying debris, especially the zip disc rotating at a high rate of speed.

As with everything in life, safety is important. Read the manufacturer's instructions first and heed the warnings. If you're not experienced with that particular tool, take your time and get used to it.

Note that any modifications to tools will likely void the warranty and may increase safety hazards. So, ultimately, how you use tools is entirely up to you.

Regardless, proper work clothes and footwear, long thick gloves and full face shield are a must to protect you from flying debris.

To keep or remove the grinder guard - that's up to you. It's a matter of choice. But, regardless, respect the tools, and always be aware of potential health and safety issues. You don't need to be overly paranoid; just be careful and use common sense.