Preventing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

If you are in a profession in the UK that dictates that you will be using hand held tools that will cause levels of vibration it is up to your employer to adhere to the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. This regulation is aimed at protecting the health of employees and reducing the potential susceptibility towards developing hand arm vibration syndrome, and in particular vibration white finger also known as VWF and carpal tunnel syndrome, sometimes called CTS.

Ideally it is preferential that vibrating tools are not used, but if it is an essential part of the job then it is important that the following factors are considered to lessen the potential for acquiring a HAVS condition.

Preventative HAVS measures to consider

If at all possible evaluate other methods that do not require the use of vibrating tools to do the same job, or consider using tools with a lower frequency of vibration. For example, if a floor needs to be polished consider using other more manual methods than a buffing machine.

Ensure that you are always using the correct tool for the job. This stops you for using a tool in a non-standard way which may lead you to having to grip or position the machinery in a fashion that may be detrimental to your health.

If possible use anti-vibration dampers and mountings or ask for vibration isolating handles to be fitted to machinery.

Ensure that there is a regular and thorough tool maintenance program in place. If the tools are always working as designed it will lessen the possibility of increased vibration caused by worn or malfunctioning equipment. Make sure that all cutting equipment is sufficiently sharp to do the job required without having to exert unnecessary force.

Use tools that are known to cause HAVS injuries as little as possible and for short periods. This may mean taking regular breaks or work on a rotation basis with a workmate.

All workers that will be exposed to vibration in the workplace must be fully trained as to how to use the machinery correctly; they must know the risks involved and know how to spot injury or the potential for injury.

Do not grip or force a piece of machinery harder than is absolutely necessary.

It is preferable to store tools in a location which will not mean that the handles or grips will be extremely cold for workers to initially grip.

The use of gloves can be particularly effective in staving off hand arm vibration conditions such as vibration white finger.

A key element towards helping to prevent HAVS is trying to keep good blood circulation by keeping warm and dry, massaging and moving fingers during breaks and not smoking because smoking has been proven to deteriorate circulation.

If you do believe that you are showing signs of HAVS, you should report them immediately to your employer.