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FEIN has unveiled its much-anticipated cordless 18v Protago high-safety angle grinder, which will be available to the market from July 2022. Developed in partnership with Bouygues, one of the world’s largest construction firms which banned the use of compact angle grinders in 2017 following a serious accident on one of its sites in France, the Protago is expected to positively transform the construction sector by setting new standards to significantly reduce accidents.

According to RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), angle grinders are classified amongst the most dangerous tools in industry, ranking third most dangerous, with 5,400 injuries recorded annually. Further to this, HSE (Health and Safety Executive) 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 in line with Bouygues zero accident policy, the Protago’s non-removeable wheel guard protects 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 will automatically disable; while its anti-kickback function detects any sudden movements, such as loss of control, automatically shutting off.

The Protago is already making an impression on the sector as the recipient of a prestigious Red Dot Design Award, winning ‘best of the best’ in the tools category, as a result of its patented technology which is expected to considerably change how angle grinders are operated globally. 

“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, senior environment health and safety leader at Bouygues.

The Protago exceeds strict occupational safety requirements and comes with several new market leading built-in features that have been developed with a primary focus on health and safety. This includes the non-removable wheel guard, an additional six-position non-removable adjustable side handle that enables flexible working in compact spaces, and the newly-developed enhanced anti-kickback detection function. In addition to these new features, the Protago is also integrated with an ergonomic grip, plus electronic overload protection and brake, as well as the FEIN PowerDrive brushless motor, which is completely encapsulated to protect the motor from excess debris. The PowerDrive motor is also 30% more efficient to that of a 1,100-watt corded machine, ensuring exceptional performance when working with metal.

“We’ve invested considerably into our R&D (research and development) 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, 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 regulation/due to inadequate health and safety standards.

“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,” concludes Andy.  

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