Do I need advice from outside the company to help me manage risk from vibration?
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)
You will need to know:
- Who in your workplace is likely to be at risk from vibration;
- What processes need careful management to avoid vibration injury;
- What tools need careful management to avoid vibration injury;
- What good practice control of vibration risks should look like in your industry;
- What vibration information should be available from tool suppliers;
- The strengths and weaknesses of vibration information from your suppliers;
- The sources of other useful vibration information;
- How to manage risk from combinations of tools;
- What information,instruction and training to provide to your employees; and
To ensure your actions have met the minimum legal standard for protection against vibration injury you will also need to know:
- How vibration exposures of individuals or groups compare with the action and limit values of the Regulations;
- What duties you have under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005; and
- That risks from vibration in your workplace are reduced to the lowest level reasonably practicable.
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.
Sources of help
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:
- Good providers of advice on control of vibration (including measurement where necessary),
- Good suppliers of powered hand tools, and providers of quality health surveillance
Other current questions on controlling vibration
Is 2.5 m/s2 A(8), the exposure action value mentioned in the regulations, a safe level of exposure?
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.
How important is the choice of consumable?
There are some tools where the vibration emission changes significantly with choice of consumable, eg 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.