You should be able to establish what you need to do to control the risk from hand-arm vibration by following HSE's guidance book L140 (Hand-arm vibration: The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005)
To ensure your actions have met the minimum legal standard for protection against vibration injury you will also need to know:
You should have contracted appropriate health surveillance to check that risks from vibration are under control.
If you find that you are having difficulty with any of the above points you should seek help.
Who you call for advice will depend on the problems you are experiencing.
Your industry trade association may be able to help find alternative processes that avoid or greatly reduce the need for powered handtools.
A better supplier may provide information to help estimate vibration exposures and plan for minimum exposure to vibration from powered hand tools.
If you are finding it difficult applying HSE’s guidance to your circumstances you are likely to find it helpful to engage a vibration consultant.
An appropriate system of health surveillance will need the services of an occupational health practitioner with qualifications and experience in clinical assessment of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). You will need to contract a quality health surveillance provider unless you already have suitably qualified occupational physicians on your staff.
The following questions should help you find:
No, as noted in paragraph 104 of L140, 2.5 m/s2 A(8) is not a safe level of exposure. People more susceptible to vibration injury will show symptoms of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) if they are exposed at around the exposure action value for several years. However, most people exposed at about the exposure action value can complete a working lifetime without showing symptoms.
There are no known cases of hand-arm vibration syndrome where daily exposures have been less than 1 m/s2 A(8).
For more information see the Annex to BS EN ISO 5349-1:2001.
Remember, the regulations require that the risk from vibration is reduced so far as is reasonably practicable. This is a requirement regardless of vibration exposure.
There are some tools where the vibration emission changes significantly with choice of consumable, e.g. drill bit. For other tools the choice of consumable is unlikely to influence vibration emission. Your supplier should be able to tell you how important the choice consumable is for minimising the vibration emission.
Manufacturers can only be expected to provide vibration information for the consumables they recommend. If you use consumables other than those recommended by the manufacturer you will need to assess the consequence for vibration exposures.
The choice of consumable can make the difference between exposures being above as low as is reasonably practicable or not.
The choice of consumable can make the difference between being above or below the exposure limit value (ELV).
If you find that you are having difficulty with any of the above points you should seek help. Who you call for advice will depend on the problems you are experiencing.