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Controlling vibration risks

Employer responsibilities

Employers have to take action to prevent risk from exposure to vibration. They need to consider whether there are other ways or machines that would eliminate the exposure to the vibration, especially where large shocks and jolts are involved. If this isn’t possible the exposure should be reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. This includes:

Risk is likely to be low for exposures at or just above the exposure action value while exposures closer to the exposure limit value will need more control.

Some controls may take time to put in place, particularly where machines must be replaced or new ways of doing things have to be developed. This would normally require an action plan. The plan should state clearly which managers, supervisors and employees are responsible for its delivery and by when. It should also include the need to test the controls.

Employee responsibilities

Employees also have responsibilities under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

The general principles of preventing Whole-body vibration

If employers comply with the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and follow HSE’s guidance, it will help them manage the risk of back pain resulting from Whole-Body Vibration. Also some of the requirements may be relatively straightforward and easy to implement, e.g. filling in potholes on unmade roads.

These include:

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Control measures

These include:

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The exposure limit

Employers should not consider reduction below the exposure limit value to be a target – you must reduce exposure as low as you reasonably can. This may mean reducing the time for which the employee uses the machine each day, e.g. spreading that particular task over several days or sharing it between two or more employees (job rotation).

Occasional exposures above the exposure limit value (weekly averaging of exposure)

On very limited occasions, employers are allowed to average exposures over a week rather than over a day, but only in particular circumstances. This is primarily designed for where workers exceptionally need to carry out work causing uncommonly high vibration exposure in a single day, e.g. for emergency work. The main conditions are:

This flexibility does not remove the duty on the employer to reduce the exposure so far as is reasonably practicable.

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Employees whose health is likely to be particularly at risk

Extra care will be needed to ensure that the exposure of those who are particularly sensitive to WBV is kept to a minimum, that they are given and take account of adequate information, instruction and training, and that symptoms of back pain are monitored.

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Updated: 2011-05-01