Hand Arm Vibration Training Guide
(Taken from the "Tailgate Meetings that Work : A Guide
to Effective Construction Safety Training" series)
Robin Baker, Robert
Downey, Mary Ruth Gross, Charles Reiter
Labor Occupational Health Program
(LOHP) School of Public Health,
University of California, Berkeley Ca.
talks were developed for use under California OSHA regulations. The
complete set is available from the Labor Occupational Health Program
at UC Berkeley. For ordering information, visit the website (www.lohp.org)
The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
has adapted these talks to apply to federal OSHA regulations. To contact
ACGIH, visit its web site (www.acgih.org).
Before you begin
- Does this topic
relate to the work the crew is doing? If not, choose another topic.
- Did you read
this Training Guide and fill in the blanks where the
appears? (To find the information you need, look over the Safety Walkaround
Checklist for this topic.)
- Did you bring
a vibrating tool used on the site to demonstrate at the meeting?
meeting is about preventing injuries from hand and arm vibration. You
may think that the tingling, pain, or numbness you feel when you use vibrating
tools is just part of your job. But vibrating tools (like drills, jackhammers,
grinders, and chainsaws) can cause serious health problemsso serious
that you could be forced to leave your trade. Millions of U.S. workers
use vibrating tools. More than half of them will get some kind of injury.
Whether or not you
get injured partly depends on:
- the amount of
vibration the tool produces (acceleration level)
- how long you
use the tool each day
- how many total
hours, months, and years you use vibrating tools
- the way you hold
and use these tools.
Some workers may
have symptoms just a few months after they start using vibrating tools,
but others may not have any trouble for a long time.
Its important to know that once you fully develop hand-arm vibration
syndrome (HAVS), it may be too late to reverse it. You may never
recover full use of your fingers. The only cure is prevention. So well
talk today about how to work safely with vibrating tools.
You or a crew
member may want to add a personal story about vibration.
with the crew which tools used at this particular job site produce
vibration that may be hazardous:
THE CREW THESE QUESTIONS:
Show the tool
you brought and point out any safety features After each question, give
the crew time to suggest possible answers. Use the information following
each question to add points that no one mentions.
1. Vibration from
tools can damage the blood vessels in your hands and fingers. The reduced
blood supply can then harm the skin, nerves, and muscles. You lose feeling
in your hands and fingers, and cant control them. This is called
hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), and is also known as
white finger, dead finger, or Raynauds
important to watch for early symptoms and report them. What are the signs
to watch for?
turn white or blue
up small objects
of heat, cold, and pain in hands.
and zipping clothes
2. Vibration isnt
the only thing that can reduce the blood supply to your hands and fingers.
Your chance of getting HAVS goes up if youre exposed to vibration
combined with other risk factors that also cut down the blood supply.
Do you know what some of those risk factors are?
3. Is there any
protective gear you can wear to prevent exposure to vibration?
- Not really. There
are gloves with vibration-damping material built into the palms and
fingers. But they havent been proven effective. If they fit well
and dont cause you to grip tighter, it doesnt hurt to try
- Regular work
gloves and warm clothing are important in cold weather to avoid getting
your hands cold or wet. Remember that cold increases your risk.
- Hearing protection
is important in noisy environments, and many vibrating tools are very
loud. Remember that noise increases your risk.
- Always wear safety
glasses or other eye/face protection when you work with any tool.
4. Are there tools
that reduce your exposure to vibration?
- Yes. The best
solution is to do the work with a non-vibrating tool instead
of a vibrating one if you can. For example, sometimes you can mill or
machine a part instead of using a grinder.
- If you do use
a vibrating tool, use one that has anti-vibration features built in
whenever possible. Some new designs can reduce tool vibration over 50%.
But tool suppliers should be asked for real evidence that their
equipment reduces vibration.
- Vibration is
reduced when tools are well maintained. Tools that are worn, blunt,
or misaligned vibrate more. Immediately report any tool that is functioning
5. Are there any
other ways to reduce exposure to vibration?
6. Do you need any
special medical exams if you work with vibrating tools?
- Limit the amount
of time you use vibrating tools (both hours per day and days per week)
- Take a 10-minute
break for every hour that you spend working with a vibrating tool. Or
alternate work with vibrating and non-vibrating tools.
- Let the tool
do the work. Keep your grip as loose as possible while still keeping
control of the tool. A tight grip restricts blood flow, and also allows
more vibration to pass from the tool to the body.
- Dont use
full throttle unless you need to.
- No exams are
presently required by law, but its a good idea for anyone exposed
to hand-arm vibration on a regular basis to have an annual exam for
signs of HAVS. You should be examined by a doctor with special training
in occupational health, who will know exactly what to look for.
- Also, you should
inform your employer and request a medical evaluation if you experience
symptoms of HAVS (such as tingling or numbness).
does not have specific rules on vibration at this time. However, Cal/OSHA
did recently adopt a new ergonomics standard which relates to these issues.
On any construction job, if there has been more than one ergonomic injury
within a year to workers doing the same task, the company must take steps
to identify and correct these hazards. We must also provide relevant training.
Also, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has issued
recommendations on vibrating tools. Most of the safety measures weve
talked about are included in these recommendations. They are also part
of this companys Injury and Illness Prevention Program, which is
required by Cal/OSHA. I have a Checklist of the precautions to take when
using vibrating tools. If youd like to know more, see me after the
(Only if applicable.)
We have some additional company rules about vibration.
Do you have any other concerns about vibration? Do you see any problems
on our job? (Let the steward answer first, if there is one.)
What about other jobs youve worked on? Have you had any experience
with vibration that might help us work safer on this job?
OF THOSE WHO ATTENDED THIS SAFETY MEETING
Meetings That Work : Collection
Published in June, 1994 by: Labor Occupational Health Program, School
of Public Health, 2515 Channing Way, University of California, Berkeley,
CA 94720. Phone: (510) 642-5507.
Permission is granted to duplicate these materials for non-profit educational
purposes, provided that copies are not offered for sale.
This paper appears in the eLCOSH website with the permission of the author
and/or copyright holder and may not be reproduced without their consent.
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