Understand and minimise the effects of vibration

Common vibration hazards and controls

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.

Hand arm vibration (HAV)

HAV is caused by regular exposure to high levels of vibration from handheld tools and equipment. It could also be caused by holding materials in contact with grinding or cutting operations.

HAV can affect workers who use power tools and cutting equipment such as:

  • grinders
  • polishers
  • strimmers
  • chainsaws
  • power drills
  • road breakers

The vibration transmitted from the tools or materials to the hands and arms could damage sensory nerves, muscles and joints which is called hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Vibration white finger

This is a condition caused by damage to the circulatory system in the hands and fingers as a result of contact with vibrating tools. The symptoms are:

  • tingling
  • numbness
  • whitening appearance to the fingers

After the attack, the fingers affected may become painful, red and throbbing as the circulation returns.

These symptoms may become more severe and frequent with continued exposure to vibration, especially in cold weather. This can eventually lead to permanent disability.

Whole body vibration

Whole body vibration is caused by sitting, standing or lying on a vibrating surface. This could lead to:

  • headaches
  • motion sickness
  • chronic back pain
  • stomach problems
  • sleep and visual disturbances

Using vehicles off-road increases the risk of jolts and jarring. For this reason, employees that drive or operate heavy plant and vehicles such as construction plant, agricultural machines and quarry vehicles are especially at risk.

Vibration transmitted through the feet can also be a problem for employees that stand on the platforms of stationary plant such as rock crushers.

Carry out a risk assessment

If work with vibration cannot be avoided, then you have a legal duty to assess the risks and how to address them. You can use our HAV risk assessment form to record your assessment of risk from vibrating tools and equipment.

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​​Raise awareness

You can share the video below with your employees to help raise awareness and encourage discussion on the subject.