Assistant Editor , SHP

June 10, 2022

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New safety-focused angle grinder launched at Safety & Health Expo

FEIN unveiled a new high-safety angle grinder at this year’s Safety & Health Expo, designed to ‘reduce accidents in the construction sector’. SHP reports on the launch…

The new tool, called Protago, is expected to be available from July 2022. Developed in partnership with Bouygues, a large construction firm that banned the use of compact angle grinders in 2017 following a serious accident on one of its sites in France, the tool, FEIN hopes, will transform the construction sector by setting new standards and significantly reducing accidents.

According to RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), angle grinders are classified amongst the most dangerous tools in the industry, ranking third most dangerous, with 5,400 injuries recorded annually. Further to this, HSE revealed that in 2020-21 alone, the UK construction sector saw 39 fatal injuries and, in 2019, over a fifth (22%) of fatal accidents at work in the EU were as a result of losing control of a machine, tool or transport/handling equipment.

Created with Bouygues zero accident policy in mind, the Protago’s non-removeable wheel guard is said to protect users from flying fragments; while users will be unable to operate the high-safety angle grinder with one hand due to an integrated ‘AutoStop’ dead man’s switch and permanently mounted non-removeable additional handle, which only enables two-hand operation. Upon one hand being removed, power to the tool is designed to automatically disable. The product’s anti-kickback function also detects any sudden movements, such as loss of control, automatically shutting off.

“Bouygues Construction has had an ambitious health and safety prevention policy for 20 years. Our most important assets are the people who work on our sites. We want to offer them the best working conditions and the best tools on the market, so I am extremely happy with the collaboration between our R&D team and FEIN, as all of our colleagues will soon be equipped with this very high-safety angle grinder specially designed for them – offering optimal safety,” says Philippe Fornage, Health and Safety Director at Bouygues.

Ergonomic grip

In addition to the new health and safety features, FEIN also mentions that the Protago is integrated with an ergonomic grip, plus electronic overload protection and brake, as well as the FEIN PowerDrive brushless motor, which is said to be completely encapsulated to protect the motor from excess debris. FEIN states that the PowerDrive motor is 30% more efficient than that of a 1,100-watt corded machine, ensuring “exceptional performance when working with metal”.

The Protago has also been the recipient of the Red Dot Design Award, winning “best of the best” in the Tools category.

“We’ve invested considerably into our R&D over the last few years, working collaboratively with the team at Bouygues, to develop a solution to help towards eradicating the long-standing issues surrounding accidents on construction sites. We firmly believe this tool is going to change the industry for the better, almost fully eliminating the risks associated with the improper operation of compact angle grinders,” comments Andy Mills, Managing Director at FEIN UK.

In 2020-21, HSE issued £5.3 million in total fines, at an average of around £80,000 per conviction, to construction organisations that had failed to comply with health and safety regulations/due to inadequate health and safety standards.

Andy concludes: “The misuse of tools has been a major problem many construction companies have been attempting to navigate for years, as it’s costing firms across the UK millions in fines. The Protago has been designed in response to these complex challenges and we’re confident it will ease this burden to ultimately keep people safe while improving productivity in the long term.

“Many accidents are happening as a result of loss of control due to improper handling and this machine brings a ground-breaking solution to the market.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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