The aim of this toolbox talk is to increase awareness of the effects of vibration resulting from the use of work equipment.
The use of regular toolbox talks, if done effectively, will significantly improve the safety culture within your organisation. This will increase the safety awareness of the workers, and as a result reduce the likelihood of accidents and unsafe occurrences.
- Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
- Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005
Vibration at work
Vibration can cause serious and disabling injuries, but many operatives are unaware of the risks. Many tools can cause vibration including road breakers, chainsaws, percussion drills, rotary hammers and impact drivers.
Reduce the potential for vibration by careful selection of work equipment (i.e. use those with vibration absorbing features). Always check the vibration value in m/s2 of the machine to determine the usage time.
If using work equipment that causes vibration, then plan the task so that it is broken up with other activities, or rotate the task among several employees.
If you think you are suffering from the effects of vibration, then stop the activity immediately and speak to your supervisor. If necessary, seek medical advice.
Vibration can affect the whole body, but more commonly affects the hands and arms.
The first signs may simply be a tingling in the fingers, but can also result in fatigue, irritation and loss of concentration – as a result increasing the general risks to safety at work.
Longer term effects can include damage to blood vessels, nerves, muscles, tendons and body organs, and potentially lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
Always wear appropriate PPE to keep dry and maintain hand and body temperatures (cold is a contributory factor to HAVS).
Note that heavily padded gloves do not protect against vibration and can even increase vibration levels.
Always let the work equipment do the work for you. Grip the handle as lightly as possible whilst ensuring sufficient grip is maintained for safety.
Do not use blunt tools – keep tools sharp and use the right tool for the job.
Note that nicotine reduces the blood supply to hands and fingers, so if you are a smoker, you are at increased risk of HAVS.