Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Legal Obligations

If you currently work in an environment where you will be subjected to some form of vibration such as vibrating power tools then your employer will be subject to the provisions set out in the The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 (the Vibration Regulations). This regulation provides employers with a set of guidelines that are designed to protect the wellbeing of members of staff that are subjected to vibrating machinery in the workplace.

Importantly the The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 provides a set guideline for a permitted vibration threshold. To quote, the regulations state an –

  • Exposure action value of 2.5m/s2 A(8) at which level employers should introduce technical and organisational measures to reduce exposure.
  • Exposure limit value of 5.0m/s2 A(8) which should not be exceeded.

In addition, the regulations state the following provisions –

  • The vibration risk to employees must be addressed
  • A decision must be made as to whether employees are likely to be exposed to above the daily exposure action value (EAV). If the employer deems that the upper EAV will be exceeded they will need to introduce a programme of controls to reduce the exposure to a level that is reasonable in practice and/or eliminate the risk to the employee. Also, regular health checks will need to be instituted to employees that are exposed to above the action value levels of vibration.
  • If staff is being subjected to above the daily exposure limit or it is likely that they will be, the employer will need to take immediate action to reduce the exposure.
  • Employers must inform the employees about the risks associated with vibration in the workplace and provide adequate training to attempt to mitigate those risks.
  • A record of risk assessment and actions taken to control the levels of vibration must be kept.
  • Health records for at risk employees must be kept and maintained.
  • Trade unions must be kept informed about steps and proposals to control risks.
  • Regular reviews and risk assessments must be made.

If you are unsure as to the level of vibration that is caused by certain machinery please consult the manufacturer documentation. For a general rule of thumb see below for a table comprising of a list of common vibrating tools and the vibration levels they typically provide –

Tool types & typical vibration levels

Road breakers 12 m/s2
Demolition hammers 15 m/s2
Hammer drills/combi hammers 9 m/s2
Needle scalers 5 m/s2 – 18 m/s2
Scabblers (hammer type) 40 m/s2 (peak)
Angle grinders 4 m/s2 – 8 m/s2
Clay spades/jigger picks 16 m/s2
Chipping hammers (metal) 18 m/s2
Stoneworking hammers 10 m/s2 – 30 m/s2
Chainsaws 6 m/s2
Brushcutters 4 m/s2
Sanders(random orbital) 7 m/s2 – 10 m/s2