Hand-arm Vibration Solutions
What is HAVS?
• tingling and numbness in the fingers;
• decrease in light touch resulting in not being able to feel things properly;
• loss of grip strength;
• whitening of one or more fingers, particularly when exposed to cold; and
• pain and cold sensation between attacks of vibration white finger.
• duration of exposure (time & years);
• state of tool maintenance and level of insulation, including type of handle;
• duration and frequency of
• grip forces applied;
• hardness of material being
• temperature of work environment;
• use of personnel protective equipment, including gloves;
• individual’s personal habits (smoking and use of drugs affects circulation).
ASSESSING AND MEASURING EXPOSURE
Measurement and assessment of hand–arm vibration exposure levels can help identify tools and activities that are producing excessive vibration levels. This information can be useful in establishing priorities and assessing the effectiveness of control
measures in reducing these levels.
There are several ways to measure and monitor vibration in the workplace, ranging from use of manufacturer supplied data and manual recording of an individual’s “trigger times” through to automated measuring devices and software systems to allow collection and analysis of data across an organisation.
Guidance in the best method can be given by an appropriately trained health provider or WHS professional.
MANAGING HAVS IN THE WORKPLACE
Successful hand–arm vibration exposure reduction usually requires a combination of control measures, which should follow the hierarchy of controls – elimination, redesign, engineering, administrative controls and training.
Workers should be consulted and involved in setting priorities and identifying solutions.
Such measures include:
• substituting alternative methods or processes to eliminate the need to use vibrating hand-held tools;
• selecting tools to eliminate or minimise exposure to vibration;
• modifying existing tools to either dampen the vibration or prevent the vibration from moving into the handle of the tool;
• modifying the work methods to reduce exposure to vibration;
• altering work practices and the way work is organised to reduce exposure to vibration;
• maintaining equipment on a regular basis to minimise vibration;
• providing personal protective equipment to keep workers warm and dry and encourage good circulation; and
• providing training, including good work practices and tool maintenance, and information on personal habits affecting circulation, and recognising and reporting symptoms of HAVS.
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