NT: angle grinder safety warning after multiple laceration incidents

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Wednesday, 18 November, 2020 - 10:45
Policy & legislation
Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe recently issued a safety alert is to highlight the risks associated with the use of angle grinders after eight reported laceration incidents this year.

A Darwin worker sustained a serious laceration to his arm, including damage to his artery while using a 5-inch angle grinder to cut bolts on a vessel.

The grinder, which had its handle removed, kicked back while the worker was cutting a bolt causing the blade to strike the worker’s forearm. Co-workers provided immediate first aid to the worker, before he subsequently underwent emergency surgery.

A risk assessment undertaken after the incident determined the remaining bolts could be removed using spanners.

This is the eighth serious laceration involving grinders reported to NT WorkSafe in 2020. A review of the incidents identified the following common contributing factors:

  • This was the second incident where the handle had been removed from the grinder.
  • This was the second incident where it was identified that the grinder selected was not the appropriate tool for the job.
  • In the majority of incidents the disc has caught and kicked back.
  • Injured parties have largely been experienced workers, suggesting that workers can become complacent when undertaking routine tasks. Inadequate supervision of workers may have been a contributing factor.
  • One incident involved a school student, possibly indicating that the student received inadequate training and supervision.


The safety alert recommended a number of required actions:

  • Conduct a risk assessment, which will assist in selecting the right tool for the job.
  • Grinders, like any items of plant, must be used in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. Guards and handles are an important safety feature and must not be removed.
  • Hold the grinder with both hands ensuring the side handle is inserted on the side of the unit that provides the best grip for the work activity.
  • Ensure the discs used are appropriate for the activity.
  • Wear appropriate gloves which extend to the forearm, hearing protection and safety glasses or a face shield when grinding. Flame-resistant clothing should be worn for hot work.
  • Ensure workers receive information, instruction and supervision and are adequately trained in the safe use of grinders.
  • Ensure your workgroup have an adequate number of first aid trained workers, and that first aid kits are readily available and suitable to the work being undertaken.