A brief introduction to Hand-Arm Vibration

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In this video, Teli Chinelis gives an easy-to-understand but detailed overview of what hand-arm vibration is.

Hand-arm vibration is vibration transmitted through the hands and arms, such as from power tools, or other work machines, and processes.

If your employees have regular exposure to vibration, for half an hour or more in a day, they may be at risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome, HAVS for short.

HAVS is a painful and potentially disabling condition that is caused by regular and prolonged exposure to vibration transmitted to the fingers, hands and arms.

Injuries associated with vibration exposure such as vibration white finger, carpal tunnel syndrome and Dupuytren’s contracture have led to significant numbers of compensation claims.

HAVS has also accounted for around half of all ill-health RIDDOR reports to the Health and Safety Executive in recent years.

The management of risks from hand-arm vibration exposure can appear daunting to many employers, but in reality, it is no more complex in principle than for any other workplace hazard, and just like with those other hazards the law requires employers to:

  • identify where there is a risk to be managed;
  • and apply good practice in the workplace to eliminate the risk, or reduce it so far as is reasonably practicable.

There are many factors influencing the risk of vibration-related ill-health associated with any particular vibration exposure.

An individual’s susceptibility to vibration may play a key part in determining the health effects for that individual.

Factors such as the grip and feed forces applied, the postures adopted, operator training, temperature and maintenance, efficiency and suitability of the tool will also influence the vibration exposure of the individual in one way or another.

These influencing factors can also affect the measurement of vibration magnitude, which in turn will affect the daily vibration exposure assessment.

The aim of the vibration risk assessment is to identify any significant risks and prioritise actions necessary to control exposures to as low as reasonably practicable.

This can very often be done without the need for vibration measurements; rather than investing a great deal of time and money in measuring vibration, use reliable published vibration data for an initial risk assessment and there are plenty of online tools that can allow you to make estimates of your employee’s vibration exposures. Then you can work out which are the sources of greatest risk and prioritise them for action as necessary.

However, if you ever feel the need for assistance on hand-arm vibration, please do not hesitate to give Finch Consulting a call on 01530 412777, or email us at [email protected].

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