Hand-arm vibration (HAV) can be caused by operating hand-held power tools, such as road breakers, and hand-guided equipment, such as powered lawnmowers, or by holding materials being processed by hand-fed machines, such as pedestal grinders. Occasional exposure is unlikely to cause ill health.
Whole-body vibration (WBV) mainly affects drivers of vehicles used off-road, such as dumpers, excavators and agricultural tractors. However, it can also affect drivers of some vehicles used on paved surfaces, such as lift trucks, or on rails, such as gantry cranes.
Manufacturing cast pipe components using ‘traditional’ green sand casting resulted in a product requiring a lot of remedial work (fettling), using powered hand-held tools, to produce the necessary quality of finish. The holes in the pipe flanges then had to be drilled in a separate operation.
A ‘lost-foam’ casting process was introduced and resulted in such a high quality of casting that fettling was no longer required, eliminating all exposure to hazardous vibration.
The casting was so precise that it allowed the holes to be cast into the flanges, which removed the need for drilling and further reduced production time and costs.
HAVS is a painful and disabling condition that affects the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints of the hands and arms. It causes tingling and numbness in the fingers, reduces grip strength and the sense of touch, and affects the blood circulation (vibration white finger, also known as VWF).
WBV is associated mostly with low back pain. However, back pain can also be caused by other factors, such as manual handling and postural strains, and while exposure to vibration and shocks may be painful for people with back problems, it will not necessarily be the cause of the problem.
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to assess and control the risks to the health and safety of their employees from vibration.