Grinder Safety, July 2011

Download Available: Grinder Safety

Background:  Shop or bench grinders are commonly used in automotive shop areas.  Violations with OSHA standards in operation of these grinders are very common.  Typically, these violations are rated serious and could easily be assessed as “willful & serious” i.e., the employer should have knowledge of this very common shop equipment.  Repeat violations can really mount up.  Fed-OSHA records from October 2006 thru September 2007 indicate that in the Manufacturing Industry grinders accounted for 974 citations with an average penalty of $354.  It was the 9th most cited violation.  Recently an auto service shop has been assessed a 75K penalty and this causes us to visit the safety issues related to abrasive wheel grinders.

Employee Training:  Under the OSHA regulations, the employer is responsible for maintaining the equipment in proper and safe working condition as well as initial and continuing competence of personnel who operate, care or inspect the grinder.  Employers must give clear guidance to employees on standard operating procedures and training to operate the grinder in a safe manner.  Training should address issues as follows:

  • Usage of personal protective equipment
  • Grinder operations, capabilities, hazards and limitations
  • Grinder pre-use inspection and setting of clearances
  • Reporting of damage and LOTO procedures


Safety Gauge: The most common violations on the grinder are related to the adjustment of the tool rest and tongue guard on the grinding wheel.  The grinding wheel wears out over a period of time upon use and the tool rest and guard need to be adjusted continually.  The problem is that the clearances cannot be accurately measured by the eye and a guess can often result in an OSHA violation, not to mention jeopardizing the safety of the operator.  We recommend that you purchase a simple safety gauge and place it  near the grinder.  Safety gauges are available from Odiz LLC and others.  Visit to see the gauge and its use on a grinder.


Graphic/Training:  A simple graphic illustrating the tolerances and clearances on the grinder is attached and can be used in your training class and then posted behind the grinder.  A one page memo on “Grinding Wheel Safety” and has been mailed to clients of CSI who must document this monthly training topic in writing.  A one page topic cannot incorporate all issues and concerns on issues related to grinders.  Any specific safety concerns or questions should be addressed to our professional staff.


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