Skip to content

Hand injury from portable grinder

What happened

A subcontract worker received a 3cm laceration to the hand while using a portable grinder. The incident occurred during flowline fabrication work at a spool base. The portable grinder was turned off and hanging on the grinder stand (vertical support), with a flapping disk installed. The worker used his left hand to pick up the grinder to start preparation of the parent coating in the workstation. As he grabbed the grinder, he inadvertently pressed the start trigger and the grinder started spinning. The grinder then slipped hitting his left hand, which resulted in a 3cm laceration between thumb and forefinger. He received first aid before being taken to hospital for further treatment – six stitches. 

What went wrong

  • The grinder used by the subcontractor had reduced safety features (i.e. a “deadman” switch only) when compared with company grinders at the same worksite (which were fitted with a “fast break deadman” switch);
  • The wheel protection was not properly positioned, allowing the spinning disc to touch the workers’ hand. This was not aligned with company “Abrasive wheels training” requirements;
  • Although the worker was wearing the appropriate anti-cut gloves, their specifications were of a lower protection than those used by company crew.

Lessons learned

  • Ensure grinder wheel protection, and power tool guarding, is properly positioned before using the tool; during pre-work inspections; and during regular maintenance;
  • Ensure subcontractors are clear on the requirements for PPE and hand tools – should be the same for all;
  • Before all operations remember the “7T’s” – take the time to think things through;
  • Exercise stop work authority as and when appropriate.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 4 April 2023
Download: IMCA SF 09/23

Relevant life-saving rules:
IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

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.