This is the second video in a three-part series, where noise and vibration specialists Teli Chinelis and Sue Hewitt detail exactly what hand-arm vibration is and answer some common questions surrounding it. Look out for part three coming soon.
What industries does HAVS occur in?
Hand-arm vibration syndrome occurs in industries like construction, utilities, grounds maintenance and horticulture, manufacturing, fabrication and motor vehicle repair; any industries where the use of power tools is common.
What are the highest risk tools or processes?
Some tools might have very high vibration magnitudes but only be used for a short period of time. Whereas other tools with lower vibration might be used for much longer. The total daily vibration exposure depends on a combination of both the level of vibration and the amount of time used. Tools that present the greatest risk are often those that are used continuously for long periods of time.
How should an employer deal with hand-arm vibration risks?
The approach that is required is;
- Firstly, to identify where the risks are;
- Then to assess the risks and prioritise the risks for action, and then
- To reduce the risks to as low as reasonably practicable by applying suitable control measures.
To do this you should apply controls, starting with the most effective, and by far the best approach to controlling vibration exposure is to eliminate it altogether if possible. So you should consider if the process is really necessary. If it has to be done, can it be done another way? If some use of power tools is still necessary then consider if it is possible to use low or lower vibration tools, and also select the most efficient tools and processes to get the job done.
After you have done this, if the exposure is still considered to be too high, then you may need to limit exposure by limiting the amount of exposure time, for example by using job rotation, where you are sharing the exposure between employees.
Limiting exposure time to control exposure is less effective than reducing the vibration magnitude and so should only be adopted as a long term solution when all other more effective control methods have already been considered and applied. That said it may be the best way to deal in the short term with exposures that are found to be too high.
If control by limiting exposure time is adopted, it must be properly managed to make sure that it is actually happening in practice.
Where there is a risk from vibration exposure an employer should educate and train employees so they know;
- what the signs and symptoms of HAVS are and how to report if they have symptoms;
- what systems are in place to reduce the risk; and
- how to use any tools properly, to minimise exposures.
As always, if you have any issues associated with noise or vibration please contact the relevant experts at Finch Consulting.
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