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Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health. Whole-body vibration (WBV) is transmitted through the seat or feet of employees who drive mobile machines, or other work vehicles, over rough and uneven surfaces as a main part of their job

Hand arm vibration risks

Hand-arm vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms of HAVS include any combination of:

  • 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, and probably only in the finger tips at first)

Whole body vibration risks

Large shocks and jolts may cause health risks including back-pain.

Controls to manage the risks from exposure to vibration

Common control measures are to limit the time a person is exposed to vibration sources and to provide suitable and sufficient information and training on the risks. Some practical control measures are summarised below

Use suitable low vibration tools
Designing the layout of workplace sites to reduce the need to transport materials, and so reduce the WBV exposure of drivers/operator
Keep cutting tools sharp
Regular maintenance of vehicles to include seats and suspension to reduce shocks and jolts
Reduce the amount of time you use a tool in one go, by doing other jobs in between
Maintenance of roads and ground conditions throughout sites to suit the machines that use them to reduce shocks and jolts
Keep hands warm and dry
Protect from the cold and damp by providing warm and waterproof clothing
Take a short break between operating mobile machinery and manual handling of materials, to give tired muscles time to recover before handling heavy loads



The law


Calculating daily vibration exposures

Vibration calculator


Control of vibration at work regulations 2005

Frequently asked questions



Hand-arm vibration at work

Whole body vibration at work

Hand-arm vibration. Advice for employees

Worried about your hands? Advice for workers

Vibration solutions: Practical ways to reduce the risk of hand-arm vibration injury

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