Skip to content

Hand grinder injuries

An IMCA member has reported two recent injuries caused by the use of portable hand grinders.

The first injury was due to the grinder wheel binding onto the weld being worked upon, causing the grinder to ‘kick’ and deflect into his arm. The grinder’s side grip or stabilisation handle had been removed, making it harder to control the device.

The second injury happened when the operator lost control of the grinder as a result of his taking one hand off it whilst it was still turning at high speed. He had taken one hand off the grinder because he was attempting to prevent the pipe on which he was working from falling when it came out of a support stand. The grinding wheel was still turning at high speed and the gyroscopic precessing force acting on the tool was too great for the operator to handle with one hand. This led to the grinder being deflected into his other arm causing an injury.

The company has recommended the following steps:

  • Reminding all persons operating grinders that they should be used very carefully, referring to and following all appropriate rules of operation;
  • Taking time for risk assessment before commencing the job;
  • Ensuring that all risks and issues are discussed in toolbox talks;
  • Ensuring the work piece is very secure and cannot move.

The company also noted that there had been some re-use of grinding discs that had been used subsea. This practice is dangerous, as grinding discs which have been exposed to moisture are likely to de-laminate, causing them to disintegrate at high speed. Thus discs which have been exposed to moisture over a length of time or which have been used subsea should always be discarded.

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.