Full assessment of the use of hand tools to evaluate vibration intensities and overall exposure to damaging vibrations. Similar assessments can also evaluate the impact of vibrations on the whole body.
Exposure to harmful vibrations transmitted to the hands is known to cause a number of clinical conditions which include vascular, neurological, muscular and skeletal damage. The most common condition is a form of Raynauds disease known as Vibration White Finger (VWF).
Other conditions, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, are also known to be caused by excessive exposure to hand arm vibrations. Exposure to whole body vibration is thought to contribute to physical injury and back/neck pain under certain scenarios.
In July 2005 the Government implemented European Directive 2002/44/EC (Physical Agents Directive –Vibration) into UK Law in the form of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. These force employers to carry out risk assessments for employees potentially exposed to hand-arm and whole body vibration.
The regulations stipulate two action values and limits for the different vibration types at which various control measures must be put into effect:
For Hand Arm Vibration (HAV):
and for Whole Body Vibration (WBV):
As employers and employees it is important to appreciate how vibrations can cause harm. Vibrations can be transmitted to the hands and arms when using powered hand tools, or when processing components on a fixed machine tool. These are often differentiated into rotating power tools (e.g. sanders, polishers and angle grinders) and percussive power tools (e.g. road breakers, hammer drills, and chipping hammers). Both types are known to generate significant vibration levels.
The daily personal exposure level for all employees potentially exposed to hand
arm vibration should be assessed and calculated and compared against the EAV and
EAL. Strict controls should be implemented for those who are significantly exposed.
Elimination or reduction at source should always be the preferred option for control;
however other strategies can be adopted.
For help and advice on the assessment and management of HAV or WBV please do not hesitate to contact NOHH Ltd.