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Prosecution highlights need for abrasive safety training

Prosecution highlights need for abrasive safety training

The British Abrasives Federation (BAF) is warning against the dangers of inadequate abrasive safety training for staff in the wake of a prosecution in the UK in 2014. A company manufacturing metal components has been fined in the UK after a young worker was seriously injured in his factory. The 20-years-old agency worker suffered a fractured skull and severe facial injuries because a grinding wheel broke on a hand-held grinder while he was using it. The wheel was thrown from the grinder and smashed through his visor, striking him in the face. The man underwent significant treatment for his injuries, including a five-hour operation to remove a piece of bone which was touching his brain, before further reconstructive surgery could be carried out. The man has since returned to work. The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and found out that the worker has not been properly trained in the safe use of the hand-held grinder and the precautions to be taken when changing grinding wheels. The result was that a grinding wheel, which is likely to have been defective prior to use, was fitted on the grinder and subsequently used. This defect may have been identified had the worker received the correct abrasive wheels training. The employer was fined and ordered to pay costs.

After the hearing, a HSE inspector said: "It is vital that workers who use hand-held grinders get appropriate training in their safe use and in how to change the grinding wheels properly. Most importantly operators need to know how to identify defects. Had this worker undergone such training, he may have been able to identify the defective wheel prior to using it”.

Not only is it a legal requirement under the PUWER 98 regulation in the United Kingdom that specifiers, buyers and operators using abrasives are trained in their safe use, it is also essential that this training is carried out to the highest possible standard. 

The BAF has developed an accreditation scheme in an effort to reduce accidents. The BAF Operator Training Course Accreditation Scheme ensures that accredited trainers are delivering safety training to the highest level and BAF recommends that only accredited trainers be used to deliver abrasive safety training. The members of the BAF commit themselves to manufacture and distribute safe, high quality abrasive products. However, Andrew Cranshaw, Chairman of the BAF, warns employers, retailers and users that even the safest product in the world can cause injury or death if used incorrectly. Examples of incorrect use are using a wheel without proper machine guarding, over-speeding, and lack of personal protective equipment, incorrect mounting and incorrect product selection.

BAF has updated all safety training material, thus giving approved trainers access to high quality, professional, up-to-date materials. They have also implemented a three year re-accreditation process in the UK which will ensure all accredited trainers are quoting current regulations and continue to deliver course material correctly and professionally. A traceable, auditable certification process has also been specified; making it easy to track and monitor participants.

For UK, details of an approved, accredited training provider near you, contact the BAF at, by telephone 0845 612 1380 or visit
For other countries, contact the national associations or your suppliers.
Request training validated by the BAF, FEPA or members of FEPA.


The British Abrasives Federation (BAF) is a member of FEPA, the Federation of European Producers of Abrasives: FEPA gathers over 220 companies in Europe producing bonded, coated abrasives, superabrasives, as well as abrasives and superabrasives grains: list of FEPA members. FEPA's goal is to promote safety by developing and improving ISO and CEN safety standards for grains and the availability of safety information for the users with the publication of leaflets, codes, videos and this website - In the UK, FEPA is represented by the BAF, and BAF members are members of FEPA and benefit from all FEPA services, like the members of the seven other national associations in Europe. In other European countries, producers can apply directly for FEPA membership - contact FEPA at