Hand–Arm Vibration

HandArmVibration1Five million UK workers are exposed to hand–arm vibration in the workplace.

Around five million workers are exposed to hand–arm vibration in the workplace, advises Simon Lent of Bureau Veritas UK. Two million of these workers are exposed to levels of vibration where there are clear risks of developing disease.

Common processes associated with hand–arm vibration are:

  • operating handheld or hand-guided power tools
  • holding materials being processed by machines

Ill health symptoms

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers
  • Not being able to feel things properly
  • Loss of strength in the hands
  • Fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery, particularly in the cold and wet. Often referred to as dead finger, dead hand or white finger.

HandArmVibration2Legislation

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Social Security (Industrial Injuries) (Prescribed Diseases) Regulations 1985
  • Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
  • The Control of Vibration Regulations 2005

The legal duties for both whole-body (where exposure occurs when vibration is transmitted through the seat or feet) and hand–arm vibration are as follows.

HandArmVibration3Employers must:

  • assess the vibration risk
  • establish if the daily exposure action value (EAV) will be exceeded
  • establish if the daily exposure limit value (ELV) will be exceeded
  • eliminate the risk or reduce exposure to a level as is reasonably practicable
  • provide health surveillance to employees who continue to be regularly exposed above the action value – a daily (eight hours) amount of vibration exposure
  • provide information and training
  • consult trade union safety representatives or employee representatives on your proposals
  • keep records of the risk assessment and controls
  • keep health records for employees under health surveillance
  • carry out regular reviews and take actions to reduce exposure

Further information
Vibration at work: www.hse.gov.uk/vibration

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