Toolbox Talk: Vibration

Why have this talk? Exposure to vibration can result in serious injury and disability.

Also, vibration and sound waves can travel through the ground and cause disturbances to the environment and local community, as well as causing structure damage over time.

What will this talk cover? The sources, effects, and methods of overcoming excessive vibration and reducing nuisance to others from vibration.

Who is most at risk? Those who regularly use high-vibration tools, equipment and machines.

Toolbox Talk: Vibration

Toolbox Talk: Vibration

Harm caused by vibration

  • Depending on the situation, vibration can be whole-body or, more commonly, hand–arm vibration.
  • Symptoms can appear after only a few months in some people but can take several years in others.
  • The first sign of a hand–arm problem may be just a tingling in the affected fingers.
  • In the longer term, damage may occur to blood vessels, nerves, muscles, tendons, and body organs.
  • Excessive hand–arm vibration can lead to “vibration white finger” resulting in damaged blood vessels, circulatory problems, pain and possibly gangrene. Workers can find it hard to hold items.
  • Whole-body vibration can lead to a range of seemingly unrelated medical problems, such as headaches, blurred vision, back ache, irritation, fatigue and digestive issues.
  • The harm caused can affect a person’s attention to safety in the workplace and therefore increase the likelihood of an accident occurring.

Sources of vibration

Many items of equipment and plant can cause vibration.

Hand–arm vibration damage is mostly caused by hand-held power tools, for example

  • rotating hand tools used for cutting and grinding
  • percussive hand tools used for riveting, chipping, hammering, drilling, etc.

Whole-body vibration can be caused by, for example:

  • long-term driving over uneven ground
  • sitting or standing on platform or equipment that vibrates or has repetitive impacts.

How to prevent and control vibration

  • If available, select tools with vibration-absorbing features.
  • When using a tool which causes vibration, break the task up with other work activities.
  • Know the maximum amount of time the tool can be used to keep within safe exposure limits.
  • If you think you are suffering ill effects from vibration, cease the activity, speak to your line manager or supervisor and seek medical advice if necessary.
  • Where possible, keep plant that can cause vibrations away from public areas.
  • Do not leave doors, hoods, etc open on plant or leave plant or equipment running unnecessarily.
  • Do not use poorly maintained plant or tools.
  • Any work that may create significant vibrations should be planned to minimise potential nuisances to the local community.
  • Do not ignore complaints from the local community. Respond politely and pass the complaint onto the appropriate line manager.
  • Do not undertake activities that could cause damage to nearby structures through vibration unless approved by a line manager.

Questions for employees

  • What tools do you use that cause hand-arm vibration?
  • What would you do if you noticed your fingers were tingling after you had a finished a long job using a percussive hand tool?
  • How can you avoid excessive vibration?
  • What work do you undertake that may cause vibrational disturbances to surrounding areas?

Do you have any questions for me?

Contact us should you require further information.



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