Vibration at work

You could be risking damage to nerves, blood vessels and joints of the hand, wrist and arm if you work regularly with hand-held or hand-guided power tools.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) caused by exposure to vibration at work is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent.

The health risk depends upon the vibration magnitude of the tool and the length of time it is used.

Am I at risk?

You are at risk if you regularly use hand-held or hand-guided 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 work pieces, which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery such as pedestal grinders.

We want to prevent damage as a result of working with vibrating equipment before it happens.  If you answered yes to any of the questions, speak to your manager who can contact your H&S Coordinator or Occupational Health (staff only) for advice. There may be certain health conditions that make you more vulnerable to developing symptoms. 

Controlling & Reducing the Risk

To identify if there is a risk from exposure to vibration at work, a risk assessment must be carried out based around the vibration of the tool and the length of time you use it. An action plan must then be developed to reduce and control the risk from exposure. This may include regular health surveillance with occupational health to check no symptoms are developing. Further information on reducing and controlling the risks of exposure to vibration is available.

 If you have any queries or would like additional advice on vibration exposure limits contact the Health and Safety Team:

Call: 5240

Email: healthandsafety@swansea.ac.uk

How do I protect myself?

  • Make sure a vibration risk assessment has been undertaken.
  • Always use the right tool for each job.
  • Check tools before using them to make sure they have been properly maintained and repaired to avoid increased vibration caused by faults or general wear.
  • Look after your tools, vibration increases when tools are ‘thrown around’.
  • Make sure cutting tools are kept sharp so that they remain efficient.
  • Reduce the amount of time you use a tool in one go, by doing other jobs in between (this will be determined by a risk assessment).
  • Avoid gripping or forcing a tool or work piece more than you have to.
  • Store tools so that they do not have very cold handles when next used.
  • Report to your manager if any tools vibrate excessively.
  • Make sure that you buy tools that show a low ‘vibration magnitude’ (seek advice from the health and safety team).
  • Encourage good blood circulation by:
    • Keeping warm and dry (when necessary, wear gloves, a hat, waterproofs and use heating pads if available);
    • Giving up or cutting down on smoking because smoking reduces blood flow; and
    • Massaging and exercising your fingers during work breaks.
    • Learn to recognise the early signs and symptoms of HAVS.
    • Report any symptoms promptly to your manager, H&S Coordinator or Occupational Health.
    • Attend ‘toolbox talks’ on hand arm vibration.
    • Use any control measures the University has put in place to reduce the risk of HAVS. 

Health Surveillance

Health surveillance is carried out by Occupational Health.  All individual records will be held in confidence. However, summary results for groups of staff will be reported back to the manager to indicate the effectiveness of the vibration management system.  For more information contact Occupational Health:

Call: 295538

Email: occupational-health@swansea.ac.uk

Arrangements, guidance, forms & templates

Policy Arrangements

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Guidance

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Forms & Templates

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Further information

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