What is ‘Hand Arm Vibration’ (HAV)?
Vibration transmitted to hand and arm causing conditions such as:
- Vibration White Finger
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Disorders of bones, muscles, joints and sensory nerves
When is it hazardous?
- Regular and frequent exposure to high levels of vibration can lead to permanent injury.
- This is most likely when contact with a vibrating tool or process is a regular part of a person’s job. Occasional exposure is unlikely to cause injury, although it should be avoided by people with medical conditions such as Raynaud’s Disease.
What is ‘Hand Arm Vibration’ (HAV)?
- Finger blanching
- Loss of sense of touch
- Numbness and tingling
- Ability to grip
What sort of tools and equipment can cause vibration injury?
There are hundreds of different types of tools and equipment which can expose operators to high levels of hand-arm vibration. Some of the more common ones are:
- concrete breakers/road drills;
- hammer drills;
- hand-held grinders;
- hand-held sanders;
- nut runners;
- pedestal grinders;
- power hammers and chisels;
- powered lawnmowers;
- riveting hammers and bolsters;
- strimmers/brush cutters;
- swaging machines.
How can tool manufactures help?
Equipment manufacturers are generally trying to improve the vibration performance of their products, so new tools and machines are likely to emit lower vibration than older equipment. You will gain the maximum benefit from these improvements if you introduce a policy of buying the most suitable equipment when you replace tools or machines.
DEWALT prides itself on innovation, and there for its range of hammers and other high risk products are some of the most up to date products on the market. Focusing on combating vibration at source (active vibration Control), DEWALT’s range of products demonstrate some of the loest vibration figures on the market.
For most types of equipment, manufacturers are required by law to:
- design and construct equipment which will cause the minimum risk of vibration injury;
- provide you with warning of any residual risks from vibration;
- provide you with information on vibration levels;
- provide you with instructions on how to use the equipment to avoid risks from vibration.
Health and safety law requires you to do a number of things to protect your employees.
- assess the risk to the health of your employees and plan for its control;
- manage the risk;
- provide suitable equipment for your employees’ use;
- maintain equipment correctly;
- give your employees information and training on health risks and safe use of the equipment;
- provide health surveillance of your employees where risks cannot be completely eliminated;
- provide reports to the relevant enforcing authority on cases of HAVS in your workforce;
- consult your safety or employee representative on your proposals to deal with vibration hazards.
How do I know if my employees are at risk?
The documentation supplied by the equipment manufacturer should warn you of risks from vibration. You can also check yourself to see if hand-held power tools, hand-guided and hand-fed machines are regularly used, and if so, whether anyone is, in particular using vibrating tools each day. If so, your employees are probably at risk. Even where employees are using vibrating tools or machines for less than these times, there may still be a risk and you should regularly (at least every six months) ask them if they are getting any symptoms of HAVS. Some simple questions you could ask are:
- Have your fingers gone white on exposure to cold?
- Have you had any tingling or numbness in your fingers after using vibrating equipment?
- Are you experiencing any problems with muscles or joints in your hands or arms?
- Do you have any difficulty picking up small objects such as screws or nails?
- If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, assume that there is a risk from HAV to your employees.You should refer the employee to a doctor and take action to reduce exposure.
- There is more detailed guidance on what you can do to assess the risk in HSE’s publication Hand-arm vibration
What can I do to control the risk?
There are many things you can do, several of which may cost very little and could also improve productivity and product quality, for example:
- Look for alternative ways of working which eliminate the vibrating equipment altogether.
- Make sure your employees use the most appropriate equipment for each job (inappropriate equipment may take longer to do the job or vibrate more).
- Minimise the time individuals use the equipment, eg job rotation.
- Break up periods of continuous equipment use by individuals (introduce other tasks).
- Design the job so that poor posture (which may cause strain on hands and arms) is avoided.
- Construct jigs to hold materials or tools.
- Maintain tools to the manufacturer’s specifications to avoid worsening vibration. For example:
- replace vibration mounts before they are worn out;
- ensure rotating parts are checked for balance and replace them if necessary;
- keep tools sharp.
- Get advice from your trade association on best practice.
- Get advice from the equipment manufacturer on safe use of the equipment.
- Introduce a purchasing policy specifying low vibration performance for new equipment (see ‘Buying new equipment - some useful tips’).
- Mechanise or automate the work or change the way of working.
- Ask the manufacturer to add anti-vibration mounts to isolate the operator from the vibration source.
- Provide tool support to take the weight of the tool (eg tensioners or balancers) allowing the operator to reduce grip and feed force.
What information and training do I need to give my employees?
Employees need to know about the hazard and what they should do to reduce the risk, for example:
- potential sources of hand-arm vibration;
- the health effects of hand-arm vibration;
- risk factors (eg high levels of vibration, daily length/regularity of exposure);
- how to recognise and report signs of injury;
- ways to minimise risk, including:
- changes to working practices to reduce vibration exposure;
- correct selection, use and maintenance of equipment;
- how to use tools to reduce grip force, strain etc;
- maintenance of good blood circulation at work, eg by keeping warm, exercising fingers and not smoking.
- You should consult with your safety or employee representative on your proposals for training and information.
What is ‘Physical Agents Directive 2002/44/EC’?
- Where there is a risk of vibration exposure it requires employers to:
- Assess exposure levels
- Reduce exposure to a minimum
- Provide information and training
- Program of health checks and reduced exposure
Why is ‘Physical Agents Directive 2002/44/EC’ Being Introduced?
- 25 million people at risk
- Over 5 million exposed to dangerous levels of HAV
- 1 million people suffering from advanced symptoms
- Annual cost to UK economy over €500 million
- Annual cost to European economy €5 Billion?
What Does ‘Physical Agents Directive 2002/44/EC’ Aim to Achieve?
Aims to reduce the amount of injuries caused by over exposure to high levels of vibration due to excessive use of power tools
Who Does 2002/44/EC Affect?
- Metal fabrication workers
- Maintenance fitters
- Carpenters and joiners
- Builders and construction workers
How Will ‘Physical Agents Directive 2002/44/EC’ Control Vibration Exposure?
Through establishing allowable usage levels depending on vibration of machine...
Vibration is measured in: m/s²
Exposure Action Value (EAV) < 2.5m/s² Daily Exposure
Exposure Limit Value (ELV)=< 5m/s² Daily Exposure
Exposure Limit Value (ELV)=> 5m/s² Daily Exposure (ELV)
The usage time is limited depending on the level of vibration
m/s² = √ X² + Y² + Z²
Vector sum of X,Y & Z
2002/44/EC Requires this Standard