Vibration (Hand-Arm)
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Vibration (Hand-Arm)
Vibration exposure levels from using mechanical equipment at work are covered by the Control of Vibration Regulations 2005.

Operatives could be risking damage to nerves, blood vessels and joints of the hand, wrist and arm if they regularly work with hand-held or hand-guided power tools for more than a few hours each day. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) caused by exposure to vibration at work is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. If any of the following equipment applies, the responsible UCL manager must take action.

-pedestal grinders
-concrete breakers/road breakers
-cut-off saws (for stone etc.)
-power hammers and chisels
-hammer drills
-powered lawn mowers
-hand-held grinders
-powered sanders
-impact wrenches
-strimmers/brush cutters
-needle scalers

Operatives are also at risk if they hold work pieces, which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery such as pedestal grinders.

They are particularly at risk if they regularly operate hammer action tools for more than about 15 minutes per day; or some rotary and other action tools for more than about one hour per day.

A risk assessment must be carried out and appropriate control measures put in place before the operative can return to their work activity. Control measures can include using low vibration tools, reduction in time exposure to vibration hazard and specific operative training in HAVS to increase awareness.

Typical vibration levels for common tools (Lowest-Typical-Highest)

5 m/s2 12 m/s2 20 m/s2

Demolition hammers
8 m/s2 15 m/s2 25 m/s2

Hammer drills/combi hammers
6 m/s2 9 m/s2 25 m/s2

Needle scalers
5 m/s2 -------- 18 m/s2

Scabblers (hammer type)
-------- -------- 40 m/s2

Angle grinders
4 m/s2 -------- 8 m/s2

Clay spades/jigger picks
-------- 16 m/s2 --------

Chipping hammers (metal)
-------- 18 m/s2 --------

Stone-working hammers
10 m/s2 -------- 30 m/s2

6 m/s2 --------

2 m/s2 4 m/s2 --------

Sanders (random orbital)
------- 7-10 m/s2 --------

Using the ready reckoner

1. Find the vibration magnitude (level) for the tool or process (or the nearest value) on the grey scale on the left of the table.

2. Find the exposure time (or the nearest value) on the grey scale across the bottom of the table.

3. Find the value in the table that lines up with the magnitude and time. The illustration shows how it works for a magnitude of 5 m/s2 and an exposure time of 3 hours: in this case the exposure corresponds to 150 points.

4. Compare the points value with the exposure action and limit values (100 and 400 points respectively). In this example the score of 150 points lies above the exposure action value.

The colour of the square containing the exposure points value tells you whether the exposure exceeds, or is likely to exceed, the exposure action or limit value:

5. If a worker is exposed to more than one tool or process during the day, repeat steps 1-3 for each one, add the points, and compare the total with the exposure action value (100) and the exposure limit value (400).

HSE Information:

Hand-Arm Vibration - Advice for Employers
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