Information and training for operators and supervisors

Unless you have succeeded in preventing vibration exposures entirely by eliminating all processes which involve HAV, you will need the co-operation of your workforce to help make your control measures effective. It is important that you provide your operators and their supervisors with information about the risks from vibration and that they receive the required instruction and training in the correct use and maintenance of the equipment (your employees have a duty to co-operate when you take action to comply with health and safety legislation). You should consult employees' safety representatives about the planning and organisation of your health and safety training.

They may also need to be trained in working techniques, for example to help avoid excessive gripping, pushing and guiding forces and to ensure the tools are operated safely and with optimum efficiency. With some tools, the operator's hands must be in the correct position to avoid unnecessarily high vibration exposure. Many modern vibration-reduced tools, such as breakers with suspended handles, do not deliver the lower vibration emissions unless they are operated correctly. The manufacturer or supplier should advise you of any training requirements, and may offer training for operators. Workers should also be encouraged to:

  • Use the lightest tool capable of doing the work safely and efficiently;
  • Support the tool as much as possible on the material being worked, letting its weight provide the downward force;
  • Rest hand-held workpieces on any support provided; and
  • Hold the tool, machine or workpiece with a light but safe grip.

Finally, adequate training and supervision will be required to ensure that your workers are adopting the practices listed above for protecting themselves against the development of vibration-related disease. They should be encouraged to report any symptoms (such as numbness, tingling or whiteness of the fingers), which may be associated with exposure to vibration.

If your employees are in a health surveillance scheme you should explain the importance of this, and give them information on the findings. This may provide a regular opportunity for one-to-one discussions of the vibration hazard and how to reduce the risk.

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