Vicious vibration

Whilst vibration can be beneficial and is often used during relaxing massage sessions – constant vibration can do considerable damage,   Most injuries that result from vibration occur over a period of time so what starts as minor discomfort turns into a long term chronic injury.

If you (or people who work for you) handle equipment that vibrates over long periods of time can result in disorder and damage to blood vessels, nerves and joints.  This can arise from using hand held power tools, but can also be the result of driving vehicles over rough ground for long periods of time and other activities that jolt or shake the human frame.  This kind of vibration can cause tissue injuries and can even dislodge internal organs.

The problem is that once damage occurs the effects are usually long term and cannot be cured, although the symptoms may be alleviated to some extent.  This means that employers need to be vigilant about the effects of vibration.

The legislation relating to this is the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and employers should assess the risks and take steps to reduce or eliminate risks from hand-arm vibration.  When usage is occasional it’s unlikely to be a problem; it’s when daily use of vibrating equipment is involved that the situation needs to be assessed and addressed.

Ideally, control measures should be in place and information, training and health monitoring should be available to employees.

  • Health symptoms that flag up potential hazards include:
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Pain in the hands, arms, back or joints
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Painful finger blanching in cold or damp conditions
  • Reduction of the ability to do fine work or everyday tasks – like fastening buttons or working with precision.
  • Weakening of the grip.

If hand-guided or hand-held power tools or machines are used daily or the environment generates vibration (foundries, heavy steel fabrication, construction) it’s essential to carry out careful checks on employees’ health.

If members of your staff fall victim to vibration-related health problems you’ll lose a trained operative and they’ll lose their livelihood.  It’s much better to be ahead of the game and ensure your staff and your business are protected from these injuries.

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