Hand-arm Vibration Solutions

What is HAVS?
Exposure to hand–arm vibration can result in disrupted blood and oxygen circulation in the hand and forearm, as well as damage to nerves and tendons, muscles bones and joints.
It can cause a range of conditions collectively known as hand–arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and specific disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome and lateral epicondylitis (commonly known as ‘tennis elbow’).
The most common condition resulting from exposure to hand–arm vibration is aptly named ‘vibration white finger’, or Raynaud’s Disease.
The development of HAVS is gradual and increases in severity over time. It may take a few months to several years for the symptoms to become noticeable as there is commonly a latency period between exposure and onset of symptoms. Affected workers typically report one or more of the following symptoms:
• 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.
The effects of exposure to hand–arm vibration are influenced by factors
such as:
• duration of exposure (time & years);
• state of tool maintenance and level of insulation, including type of handle;
• duration and frequency of
work-rest periods;
• 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).


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.


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.

Whipper harness

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