Understanding Hazards – Vibration

Exposure to vibration at work can occur in two main ways:
(HAV) is vibration transmitted from work activities into workers’ hands and arms. It can be caused by operating hand-held power tools, such as road breakers, and hand-guided equipment, such as powered lawnmowers, or by holding materials being processed by machines, such as grinders. Regular and frequent exposure to hand–arm vibration can lead to permanent health effects, such as vibration white finger.
(WBV), which is transmitted through the spine, occurs mainly where workers are driving vehicles such as tractors and earth movers for long periods. It is associated with musculoskeletal problems and other ill-health effects.

If any of the following apply to your team, you may need to take action to minimise the risk of injury:

•  Do workers report tingling and numbness in their hands or fingers after using vibrating tools?

•  Do workers hold work pieces that vibrate while being processed by powered machinery?

•  Do workers regularly use hand-held or hand guided power tools and machines, such as sanders, grinders, hammer drills and powered mowers?

•  Do workers 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?

•  Do workers regularly work in an industry where exposures to vibration are particularly high, such as construction, foundries, heavy steel fabrication or shipyards?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, you’ll need to do a risk assessment – you could do this yourself or get a competent person to do it.  Depending on what you find, you’ll need to develop an action plan. 

You can consider these options:

Alternative ways of working

Try to find alternative work methods which eliminate or reduce exposure to vibration.


Choose the tool with the lowest vibration that’s suitable and can do the work efficiently, and limit the use of high-vibration tools.

Purchasing Policy

Replace older machinery with new efficient and low-vibration equipment.

Workstation Design

Improve the design of workstations to minimise loads on employees’ hands, wrists and arms caused by poor posture.


Poorly maintained equipment can cause more vibration.

Protective Clothing

The right clothing can encourage good blood circulation, which will help protect workers from vibration white finger.