Guidance On Using Emery Cloth On Metalworking Lathes [UK]

The HSE recently published guidelines on its website for using emery cloth on metalworking lathes.

The guidance states that serious accidents that occur when using emery cloth on lathes can result in injuries such as broken bones and, in the worst cases, death.

Features of emery cloth

It is stated that the main use for emery cloth on a metalwork lathe is to polish and deburr cylindrical metal components. The danger is apparent when the hand-held cloth gets caught on the rotating metal component and pulls the operator into the danger zone of the equipment.

metal worker

Increasing safety

The guidance states that risk assessments should be conducted to confirm there are no alternatives than to manually polish the metal components.

If this is the case, then two methods are available to increase safety for external work and internal work. These being:

  • the emery cloth can be looped and clamped to a holding device attached to a tool post for external work
  • the emery cloth can be wrapped onto a holding device for internal work and this is held in a boring bar holder attached to a tool post.

More safety information

Videos of the above methods are available in the guidance, which clearly states that it is unacceptable to use emery cloth directly by hand on rotating CNC or manual metal working lathes.

It also states that wrapping emery cloth around rotating components is highly dangerous.

For more detailed information, please refer to the guidance page or EIS2 document.

Red-on-line EHS Legalist


‘The use of emery cloth on metalworking lathes’ guidance published by the Health and Safety Executive on its website on 9th October 2015.

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