Understand vibration levels - Vibration - Healthy Working Lives

Vibration

Understand and minimise the effects of vibration

Exposure to vibration could have a negative effect on the health of your employees. It could damage joints, muscles, circulation and sensory nerves.

This could lead to considerable pain, time off or even disability.

Use the links below to find information on how to assess the risks, calculate vibration levels in your workplace and precautions you can take.

  1. Common vibration hazards and controls
  2. Understand vibration levels
  3. Precautions to reduce vibration
  4. Legal duties for vibration

2. Understand vibration levels

​You must assess the risk faced by employees that use vibration tools and equipment. This includes vehicles or heavy plant. To be able to do this you need to calculate the amount of vibration that your employees are exposed to. You should establish the vibration level for the duration that employees are exposed while using

  • tools
  • vehicles
  • equipment.

To establish the amount of time employees are exposed to vibration you should observe and measure the time they use the equipment. You can measure it over a short period of time, and use this figure to estimate the exposure time for the full work day.

Gather data on vibration levels

Manufactures need to provide details of how much vibration a tool or piece of equipment produces, either on tools themselves or in handbooks.

Vibration levels are useful when choosing tools that produce less vibration. However there are other factors when using equipment that will influence risks, such as

  • how long it is used for
  • how tightly it is gripped
  • how awkward it is to use
  • how cold and wet conditions are during use.

You can find examples of levels for a range of typical tools in use on the Health and​ Safety Executive (HSE) site.

Visit the HSE site for examples of vibration levels​

​Calculat​e vibration levels

When levels and exposure times have been established, each employee's daily exposure needs to be calculated. 

You can do this for both hand arm vibration (HAV) and whole body vibration (WBV) on the HSE website.

Visit the HSE site to use the HAV exposure calculator​​

Visit the HSE site to use the WBV calculator

Based on the results you may need to take action to reduce exposure if your employees are exposed to levels above those stated in legislation.

Exposure action values

If your employee is likely to be exposed to levels above the exposure action values (EAV) you need to bring them down to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

EAV for HAV is 2.5m/s² A (8). This can be expressed as an exposure points value of 100 points. 

EAV for WBV is 0.5m/s² A (8).

Legislation requires you to

  • introduce some control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure
  • provide health surveillance for those employees that will continue to be exposed above the action levels.

Exposure limit values

Your employees can't be exposed to levels higher than the exposure limit values (ELV).

ELV for HAV is 5.0m/s² A (8). This can be expressed as an exposure points value of 400 points​. 

ELV for WBV is 1.15m/s² A(8).

Legislation requires you to

  • take immediate action to reduce levels to under the limit
  • provide information, instruction and training on health risks and the actions that you have taken.