Hand-arm vibration (HAV) is a hazard for employees in many industries and occupations. HAV exposure at work can arise from the use of handheld power tools (such as grinders or hammer drills), hand-guided machinery (such as lawnmowers and plate compactors) and hand-fed machines (such as pedestal grinders). Prolonged and regular exposure to this vibration can affect the operator’s health.
What are the problems?
Regular and frequent exposure to HAV can lead to permanent adverse health effects. These ill-health effects are known as:
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
Symptoms of HAVS include tingling and numbness in the fingers and can result in the inability to do every day task such as picking up a pen. There is a loss of strength in the hands and fingers can go white. There is a reduced ability to work in cold and/or damp conditions.
Symptoms of CTS include a tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in the hand which can interfere with everyday tasks and may affect the ability to work safely
Where employees are exposed to vibration the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (COVWR 2005) requires you to:
- Carry out a risk assessment and take action to control the risks
- Provide information, instruction and training to employees at risk
- Provide health surveillance