Danger from Vibrating Tools

12th October 2017

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Danger from Vibrating Tools

As part of our October Horticulture month, we are highlighting the danger from vibrating tools used in Horticulture – such as mowers strimmers, leaf blowers etc, all these machines have an element of vibration whilst in use.

Back in 2015 a company was fined by the HSE after a worker suffers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

These details are from HSE website – A facilities management company has been fined for safety failings that contributed to a worker sustaining Hand Arm Vibration.

Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard how, between 2007 and 2012, an employee of UPP (Broadgate Park) Limited operated mowers, strimmers, and a leaf blower as part of his work for the company, and was regularly exposed to levels of vibration which were above the Exposure Limit Value and Exposure Action Value. He reported ill health symptoms to his line manager but no action was taken.

UPP (Broadgate Park) Limited, of Gracechurch Street, London, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive and pleaded guilty to Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 5(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and fined a total of £14,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £1,943.

Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health (painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints).

Danger from Vibrating Tools – Am I at risk?
You are at risk if you regularly use hand-held or handguided 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 workpieces, which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery such as pedestal grinders.

You are particularly at risk if you regularly operate:

Hammer action tools for more than about 15 minutes per day; or Some rotary and other action tools for more than about one hour per day. As you are likely to be above the exposure action value set out in the regulations.

Danger from Vibrating Tools

What are the early signs and symptoms to look out for?
● Tingling and numbness in the fingers (which can cause sleep disturbance).
● Not being able to feel things with your fingers.
● Loss of strength in your hands (you may be less able to pick up or hold heavy objects).
● In the cold and wet, the tips of your fingers going white then red and being painful on recovery (vibration white finger).
If you continue to use high-vibration tools these symptoms will probably get worse, for example:

● The numbness in your hands could become permanent and you won’t be able to feel things at all;
● You will have difficulty picking up small objects such as screws or nails;
● The vibration white finger could happen more frequently and affect more of your fingers

How do I protect myself?
It is your employer’s responsibility to protect you against the danger from vibrating tools – HAVS and carpal tunnel syndrome, but you should help by asking your employer if your job could be done in a different way without using vibrating tools and machines. If this cannot happen:
● Ask to use suitable low-vibration tools.
● Always use the right tool for each job (to do the job more quickly and expose you to less hand-arm vibration).
● 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.
● 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.
● Avoid gripping or forcing a tool or workpiece more than you have to.
● Store tools so that they do not have very cold handles when next used.
● 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.

What else can I do?
● Learn to recognise the early signs and symptoms of HAVS.
● Report any symptoms promptly to your employer or the person who does your health checks.
● Use any control measures your employer has put in place to reduce the risk of HAVS.
● Ask your trade union safety representative or employee representative for advice.
● Help your employer to stop HAVS and carpal tunnel syndrome before they become a problem for you.

At Kentra we cover an element of Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) as standard during our training courses for any machinery with an element of vibration, to highlight the danger from vibrating tools. In addition, we also deliver a HAV’s course which is more in-depth training specifically covering the danger from vibrating tools, associated risks and HAV’s symptoms. This is a LINK to our HAV’s webpage for a course syllabus.

This months News publications are looking at all types of Horticulture machinery and equipment. Everything from Tractors and Chainsaw’s to Leaf blowers, all of which are in use a lot during this mid Autumn month. We feel it is also important to cover issues such as Hand Arm Vibration which is closely associated with a number of these Horticulture machines.

We hope you have found this article ‘Danger from Vibrating Tools’ to be of interest, and as always our office staff are available for you to Contact Us and happy to discuss any of your training queries, on this subject or any other training matter.

Warm regards The Kentra Team

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