Back in 2009, Fred was using a bench grinder and wire wheel to clean some rusted files. Sounds simple enough, right? Although he was wearing goggles and gloves, that didn’t help when a thin triangular file broke apart and flew towards his head. The projectile hit above the goggles and became lodged in the man’s skull!
What did he do next? Fred grabbed his camera and started taking photos of his injury while waiting for medical assistance. Fred documented his emergency treatment and subsequent surgeries with additional photos. Check out his forum thread about the ordeal! Fred tells a great story and somehow managed to fit a lot of humor into the discussion of his head injury.
Everyone should own and use a face shield when there’s the potential for high velocity metal projectiles. Face shields are relatively inexpensive, and there’s no excuse for not having one. Buy one and keep it near your other personal protective gear. “I’ll be okay just this one time without it” is when accidents have a high likelihood of occurring.
It’s hard to say if a face shield would have helped out in Fred’s case, but it wouldn’t have made the situation any worse. If Fred wasn’t looking down and was instead facing forward, the projectile could have instead lodged itself in a part of his face.
For my own protection, I typically wear either my Uvex Bionic or AO Safety face shields, depending on the project and tools being used, and can recommend both. While I don’t think they’ve saved me from terrible injury, they have definitely made me safer by reducing the risk of injury.
When there’s the risk of high velocity projectiles, equipment shielding should also be used. A face shield wouldn’t have saved Fred from a file to his throat if he had been looking up. A grinder-mounted guard might have protected Fred and spared him the need for surgeries and a titanium plate in his skull.
As a reminder, face shields are all designed to be used with – and not instead of – safety glasses or goggles.
Recommended Face Shields: Uvex Bionic, MSA, AO Safety (via Amazon)
Blast from the past! This post was first published on 4/7/10 and updated and republished on 5/8/14.
I’m the guy on the picture (seriously!). Now, I wear an old full face helmet when using a bench grinder :o)
I’m glad to hear it, and that everything worked out for you in the end!
Glad you’re OK, Fred.
I know this post is old, but it came up as a “Related Post” for me, and when the link did not work (because of age), I Google searched the image. Here is a working link for your viewing enjoyment:
Fred has an excellent dry sense of humor about his ordeal, and it is a lesson to us all who use a bench grinder.
Thanks for the new link!!
I forgot how amusing that story was and will be republishing this story today as a good reminder of grinding safety.
🙂 Happy to. And yours is sound advice.
My experience: I was wearing my own Uvex Bionic one time when a spalted (read: rotten) chunk of wood on the lathe shattered and hit the face shield right where my nose would have been. Sure enough, just before I started I thought to myself: “I’ll be okay just this one time without it” just like Stuart says in the article. Thinking twice saved my face. Confession- up to that point I was only wearing my normal glasses under the shield. Now I wear safety glasses.
The shield suffered a scratch, which is saying something.
Ah! I knew I was forgetting something! I’ve wanted a Face Shield for a while, this has reminded me of its priority! Thanks!
Us freds need to stick together – and while I’ve not personally experienced an accident where a face sheild would have saved me – I did see the aftermath of a grinding wheel that shattered sending pieces flying about the shop floor. One lesson learned from this was that you need to read the precautions on the wheel – most of them caution users not to grind anything on the side of the wheel – which was suspected as the cause for the wheel failure.
Glad your okay Fred, that is rough. I agree a face shield is always a good idea but I will add this Gloves are not when using rotating machinery.
Why do wire wheels not have a guard like the stone side, anyone know?
Many do. Fred might have been using an older model without proper guarding, or one with defeated or removed guarding.
I just looked, and a lot of new grinding wheel + wire wheel bench grinders do look to have proper protective guarding.