Hand Arm Vibration – reducing the risk
It’s not just the specified HAV readings you need to consider, but what work you are doing with the machine or tool.
Hand Arm Vibration syndrome is a disorder that affects the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. The best known form of it is white finger which can cause severe pain in the affected fingers. Operators are at risk if they regular use hand-held powered tools such as Concrete Breakers, Angle Grinders and Scabblers
Before embarking on a project, you need to know if the equipment is suitable for the task, how long you can use it for and if the accessory is fitted correctly and appropriate. If not acknowledged, a seemingly harmless Grinder with a low exposure value deemed suitable for continued usage could become a real vibration hazard and a danger to the operator. It is standard practice to conduct tests in real situations and monitor use for the duration of the project. It may be that alternative methods, equipment, tools or accessories need to be sought.
There are many features that can be incorporated into machine and tooling designs to reduce or eliminate the risk of HAVs. The Preparation Group’s range of surface preparation equipment and tools have been designed to incorporate anti-vibration features, to increase the time the operator can use them and to minimise the hazard. These include enhanced weight of the machine body, the use of anti-vibration rubber handles and shock absorbers and elongated designs so that the operator is further away from the operating head. The equipment is tested and measured in the controlled environment of The Preparation Group’s training school which emulates onsite conditions. Examples are the company’s 180 Grinder and MSS150 Multi Surface Stripper, designed so that the impact of vibration is ‘absorbed’ in the body of the unit and the user is not in direct contact with the accessories performing the task. What this means in terms of HAVs is that if you take the MSS150’s closest comparison, a standard Mechanical Breaker, it measures 8.5m/s2 r.m.s (the calculation for vibration magnitude) which is high risk and therefore it can only be used for up to 45 minutes in 15 minute bursts. The MSS150 measures 4.00m/s2 r.m.s and can therefore be used continuously for up to 3 hours.
Another critical consideration is PPE such as anti-vibration gloves, these can further reduce the effects of impact and vibration whilst allowing the dexterity needed when using power tools.
If there is any doubt, The Preparation Group offers advice on the correct selection of equipment, tools and accessories, along with technical documentation. The company is also SafeHire certified as an extra layer of assurance.