Advice for employees hand arm vibration


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Advice for employees hand arm vibration

  1. 1. Health and SafetyExecutiveHand­arm vibrationAdvice for employees
  2. 2. What is hand­arm vibration?Hand­arm vibration is vibration transmitted into yourhands and arms when you use hand­held poweredwork equipment. Too much exposure to hand­armvibration can cause hand­arm vibration syndrome(HAVS) and carpal tunnel syndrome.What is hand­arm vibrationsyndrome?■ HAVS affects the nerves, blood vessels, musclesand joints of the hand, wrist and arm.■ It can become severely disabling if ignored.■ It includes vibration white finger, which can causesevere pain in the affected fingers.What is carpal tunnel syndrome?Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder which mayinvolve pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in parts
  3. 3. of the hand, and can be caused by, among otherthings, exposure to vibration.What are the early signs andsymptoms to look out for?■ Tingling and numbness in the fingers (which cancause sleep disturbance).■ Not being able to feel things with your fingers.■ Loss of strength in your hands (you may be lessable to pick up or hold heavy objects).■ In the cold and wet, the tips of your fingers goingwhite then red and being painful on recovery(vibration white finger).If you continue to use high­vibration tools thesesymptoms will probably get worse, for example:■ the numbness in your hands could becomepermanent and you won’t be able to feel thingsat all;
  4. 4. ■ you will have difficulty picking up small objectssuch as screws or nails;■ the vibration white finger could happen morefrequently and affect more of your fingers.When am I at risk?You are at risk if you regularly use hand­held or hand­guided power tools and machines such as:■ concrete breakers, concrete pokers;■ sanders, grinders, disc cutters;■ hammer drills;■ chipping hammers;■ chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers,powered mowers;■ scabblers or needle guns.You are also at risk if you hold workpieces whichvibrate while being processed by powered machinerysuch as pedestal grinders.
  5. 5. How can I help reduce the risks?It is your employer’s responsibility to protect youagainst HAVS and carpal tunnel syndrome, but youshould help by asking your employer if your job couldbe done in a different way without using vibrating toolsand machines. If this cannot happen:■ Ask to use suitable low­vibration tools.■ Always use the right tool for each job (to do thejob more quickly and expose you to less hand­armvibration).■ Check tools before using them to make sure theyhave been properly maintained and repaired toavoid increased vibration caused by faults orgeneral wear.■ Make sure cutting tools are kept sharp so thatthey remain efficient.■ Reduce the amount of time you use a tool in onego, by doing other jobs in between.
  6. 6. ■ Avoid gripping or forcing a tool or workpiece morethan you have to.■ Store tools so that they do not have very coldhandles when next used.■ Encourage good blood circulation by:­ keeping warm and dry (when necessary,wear gloves, a hat, waterproofs and useheating pads if available);­ giving up or cutting down on smokingbecause smoking reduces blood flow; and­ massaging and exercising your fingersduring work breaks.
  7. 7. What else can I do?■ Learn to recognise the early signs and symptomsof HAVS.■ Report any symptoms promptly to your employeror the person who does your health checks.■ Use any control measures your employer has putin place to reduce the risk of HAVS.■ Ask your trade union safety representative oremployee representative for advice.Help your employer to stop HAVS andcarpal tunnel syndrome before theybecome a problem for you.
  8. 8. For more information on hand­arm vibration, see HSE’sfree leaflet Control the risks from hand­arm vibrationINDG175(rev2) and visit HSE’s vibration website pocket card contains notes on good practicewhich are not compulsory but which you may findhelpful in considering what you need to do.This pocket card is available in priced packs of 25 fromHSE Books, ISBN 978 0 7176 6118 3. Single freecopies are also available from HSE Books, Tel: 01787881165.© Crown copyright This publication may be freely reproduced,except for advertising, endorsement or commercial purposes.First published 06/05. Please acknowledge the source as HSE.INDG296(rev1) Reprinted 11/08 C1750Printed on paper using 50% recycled fibre from post­consumer sources.Printed and published by the Health and Safety Executive