Exposure to vibration at work can occur in two main ways:

Hand–arm vibration (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. 

Whole-body vibration (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 you experience the following symptoms you should report these immediately to your supervisor or manager.  They will need to take the appropriate action to minimise the risk of injury to you:

•  Report tingling and numbness in their hands or fingers after using vibrating tools?

If you carry out any of the following, then your employer should ensure that a risk assessment is carried out to ensure the risks from these activities are as low as possible:

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

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

•  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?

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

Following the completion of the risk assessment, they’ll need to develop an action plan, which could include:

•  Alternative ways of working – try to find alternative work methods which eliminate or reduce exposure to vibration

•  Equipment – 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.

•  Maintenance – 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.