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Vibration

Vibration

Hand-arm vibration is generated by the intense vibration of the tool handle or the treated detail, which spreads into the hand and arm. Whole-body vibration is the vibration that spreads onto the entire body of the employee. Employee, whose hands come repeatedly into contact with hand-arm vibration, could develop damages in their hand and arm tissues (hand-arm vibration syndrome). Health risks emanating from the hand-arm vibration affect employees in many sectors and many positions. Good management enables to control the vibration dangers, alleviate the risks and intensify work.

Whole-body vibration mostly affects the body parts that bear weights – skeleton and musculature. First symptoms often include back pain (in the case of sitting work) or knee pain (standing work). In longer contact, such pains turn chronic. In addition, whole-body vibration also affects the internal organs and internal regulation of the organism, causing higher blood pressure, balance disorders or even gastric ulcers.

If working outdoors cannot be avoided, it is suggested to use machines with heated handles. When working indoors, the workspace temperature must be such that employees would feel comfortable without special clothes. Avoid machines that make hands feel cold, for example machines with steel body or pneumatic tools that direct exhaust air onto the operator’s hands. As cold increases the hand-arm vibration hazard, the employee is supplies with suitable warm clothes and gloves.

If the employee comes in contact with vibration (both hand-arm and whole-body vibration) in their work, the employer must send the employee to occupational health doctor for a medical check.

Prevention

Vibration directive (2002/44/EC) establishes the daily operating value, how much employees may come into contact with vibration. If this value is exceeded, the employer must limit the hand-arm vibration risks of their employees. Employees’ contact with vibration exceeding the marginal rate must be avoided. However, damage can also be done by contact with vibration with a lower marginal value.

To manage risks, employers must have efficient hand-arm vibration decreasing strategies. Efficient management often combines different methods.

When setting up the workplace, several means decreasing the effect of vibration can be applied. Jigs and handles suppressing vibration are one option. Incorrect choice of handles may actually increase the vibration that the hand must tolerate – therefore, use accessories recommended by the tool manufacturer. To improve usability, rubber or some other elastic material can be wrapped around handles. Decreasing the hand’s grip or thrust power also decreases the vibration permeating the user’s arm and hand. The mentioned powers are used to support the tool or handled detail, guiding the machine, or achieving a great processing speed. In some cases, the correct position of the operator’s hands enables to avoid excess contact with vibration.

Anti-vibration gloves must bear CE-marking which shows that the gloves’ compliance to EN ISO 10819:1997 requirements has been proven with tests. Gloves do not significantly decrease the risk on frequencies below 150 Hz (9,000 rpm). This means that in the case of most electric hand tools, decreasing the vibration rate using the anti-vibration gloves is useless. Anti-vibration gloves can, to a certain extent, decrease the vibration risk in the case of tools with great rotation speed or which generate a high-frequency vibration and do not need much force to hold properly.

Regular maintenance of electric hand tools and other devices helps to keep the vibration power and jolts on the required minimum level.

The manufacturer of devices should notify the employer of training requirements and could offer training for operators. Employees should be recommended to rest the tool as much as possible on the handled material or support stand, and hold the tool lightly, yet steadily.

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