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Power Tool Vibration: Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005

Power Tool Vibration: Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005

The HSE Vibration at work advises employers on exposure levels, impacts of excessive exposure, who’s at risk, measuring exposure, and reducing the risks. This is to combat the side effects that long periods of exposure can cause. There are two areas the HSE look at in their guidance, hand-arm vibration from power tools and machinery and whole-body vibration from off-road mobile machinery, agricultural vehicles, or industrial trucks. 

Power tools are high-usage equipment in our industry, so it is important to look at how exposure can be reduced when activities are a large part of construction workers’ role.

What are the impacts of hand-arm vibration?

Regular use of high vibration power tools can lead to illnesses such as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). 

These can cause a range of symptoms and effects, including:

  • Tingling and numbness sensations in fingers and hands, resulting in the inability to do day-to-day activities such as fastening buttons or more detailed work like assembling small components. (HAVS/CTS)
  • The loss of strength in hands that could impact working safely (HAVS)
  • Blanching of fingers makes them go white and then become red and painful in recovery. 

This can potentially reduce an individual’s ability to work in certain conditions, i.e. outdoors or in cold and damp conditions (HAVS)

Initially, these symptoms may come and go, but continued exposure could become more frequent and potentially permanent, causing pain, distress, and disrupting sleep.

What are the vibration regulations?

The current regulations require employees to:

  • Ensure the risk of vibration is controlled
  • Employees should be provided with relevant information, instruction, and training on the risks and the actions being taken to reduce the risks
  • Provide suitable health surveillance

There are two measurements the regulations use, exposure action value (EAV) and exposure limit value (ELV), based on the vibration at grip points and the time spent gripping the tool or machine.

What are the exposure action and limit values?

  • A daily EAV of 2.5 m/s2 over an avg. of 8 hours represents a clear risk that requires managing
  • A daily ELV of 5 m/s2 over an avg. of 8 hours represents a high risk exceeding the levels to which an employee should be exposed

What is relative health surveillance?

Health surveillance should be provided in circumstances where the exposure exceeds the EAV or after diagnosis of HAVS and where there is continued exposure to EAV, even if below the specified levels. This can include initial questions to establish signs and symptoms. They must also have access to a competent occupational physician. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the providers have the proper qualifications and training so they can give you:

  • Feedback that includes their ability to work with HAV for the employee under health surveillance
  • Anonymised health surveillance results, unless the company or groups of employees are too small to receive the information in this way
  • Updates on new or deteriorating cases of HAVS that have been diagnosed in the business. This needs to be with the consent of the affected person.

It is mandatory to report cases of HAVS and CTS under RIDDOR.

The HSE has a very useful vibration calculator which can help with selecting the best tool for your project while also protecting you and your team’s long-term health.

Beacon supplies an extensive range of power tools, including low vibration options such as needle scalers that comply with regulations and come with the relevant equipment handbooks. We also stock a wide range of PPE to ensure you and your team are protected for the duration of your project. 

If you have any questions about our power tools or PPE, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your local branch, where one of the team will be happy to help.

Buy and hire options available. However, it is important to note that our hire service is only available to Beacon MyAccount customers. This is a premium service we have designed to support our business customers and offers a wide range of benefits, including 10% off website list prices, bespoke price list downloads, and much more. To apply, just complete our simple online application form, and we will do the rest.