Permanent injuries to blood vessels, nerves and joints can be caused by repeated vibrations from hand and power tools
How are workers harmed?
Hand and power tools send vibrations through the hands and arms. Vibrating surfaces, where a worker sits or stands, can send vibration throughout the whole body.
Other factors that can increase the likelihood of vibration injury include:
- working in cold, damp conditions
- increased grip force
- using power tools for extended periods of time.
What you can do
First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples questions and actions to consider:
- Can workers use tools that generate less vibration?
- Can seating be improved and/or cushions provided?
- Can matting be installed?
- Can a process be used that generates less vibration?
- Can you limit how long a worker performs a task for? Can job rotation be used?
- Can you schedule frequent breaks for workers?
- Do workers have vibration-dampening personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and hand tool wraps? Is the PPE effective in reducing exposure to vibration?
You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.
Get your workers involved
- Ensure your workers know how to make suggestions, ask questions or raise concerns.
- Always ask your workers for input on identifying health and safety risks and how to eliminate or minimise them. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good decisions when they have been involved in the conversation. Your workers (including contractors and temps) are the eyes and ears of your business. They can help spot issues, and suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.
- Always train your workers on what the key risks are and how to keep healthy and safe.