What Is Hand Arm Vibration?

Hand Arm Vibration is the vibration transmitted from a tool or work process into a workers hands and arms.

Hand Arm Vibration can be caused by operating hand­held power tools, such as Road breakers and hand guided equipment such as powered lawnmowers, or by holding materials being processed by machines, such as pedestal grinders.
Hand arm vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) or Vibration White Finger (VWF) as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome?

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome often known as (HAVS) is a widespread recognised industrial condition affecting tens of thousands of workers.

It is a disorder, which affects the blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and joints, of the hand, wrist and arm normally caused by excessive, long-term exposure to working with tools that vibrate, or holding materials that are shaking.

Hand Arm Vibration Symptoms:

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers which can cause sleep disturbance
  • Pins and needles
  • Not being able to feel things with your fingers.
  • Reduced sensitivity of touch
  • Aches and pains
  • Loss of strength in your hands
  • The fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery particularly in the cold and wet and probably only in the tips at first

Who is at risk from Hand Arm Vibration?

The people most at risk from hand arm vibration are those who regularly operate high vibration tools such as drills breakers and grinders.

Jobs requiring regular and frequent use of vibrating tools and equipment and handling of vibrating materials are found in a wide range of industries, for example:

  • Building and maintenance of roads and railways
  • Construction
  • Estate management
  • Forestry
  • Foundries
  • Heavy engineering
  • Manufacturing concrete products
  • Mines and quarries
  • Motor vehicle manufacture and repair
  • Public utilities for water, gas, electricity, telecommunications
  • Shipbuilding and repair

What kind of tools can cause ill health from vibration?

There are hundreds of different types of hand­held power tools and equipment which can cause ill health from vibration.

Some of the most common ones are:

  • Concrete breakers, concrete pokers
  • Sanders, grinders, disc cutters
  • Hammer drills
  • Chipping hammers
  • Chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers,
  • Powered mowers
  • Scabblers or needle guns.

Can hand-arm vibration syndrome be prevented?

The following steps are thought to help prevent HAVS in workers who use vibrating tools:

  • Hold tools as loosely as possible, and in varying positions.
  • Ensure that tools are well maintained.
  • Use tools correctly, and use the right tool for the job. The aim is not to need excessive grip or to use a tool for longer than necessary.
  • Take regular breaks of at least 10 minutes away from the tool. Short bursts of work are better than long periods of work without a break.
  • Keep warm while at work – especially your hands by using work gloves
  • You should not smoke – the chemicals in tobacco can affect blood flow.

Manufacturers Vibration Values Explained

Some manufacturers provide vibration data on their tools. However, caution must be taken as these values may not be fully representative of the results you may get when using the tool in the work-place. In most circumstances they are significantly lower than work-place values. This is due to different processes, applications and accessories used with the tool and how the individual operator uses the tool. If you have any doubts or would like to speak to one of our HAV Technicians, you can call us on 02380 315316 or email us at services@powertoolrepairsuk.com

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