Some hand-held power tools can produce a lot of vibration. Certain tools generate vibration levels so high thay they can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the worker's hands. Workers are at a greater risk of developing a vibration-related injury if they use vibrating power tools often or for long periods of time. These injuries can be prevented, but there is no cure once damage has been done. One solution is to use reduced vibration power tools. Many tools are now available that are designed to produce less vibration. Reduced vibration tools should always be used with full-fingered anti-vibration gloves that are certified to meet international vibration standards (ISO 10819).
The photos below offer an example of work with power tools that emit vibration, along with a image of gloves that can be used to reduce the risk to workers who use such tools:
Working with vibrating hand tools that have a frequency range between 8 Hz and 1500 Hz can cause hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). HAVS is sometimes called "vibration white finger" and in extreme cases can even lead to gangrene. This type of vibration exposure is caused by the regular use of vibrating pneumatic, electric, hydraulic, or gasoline-powered hand tools. Reduced vibration power tools reduce the amount of vibration transmitted through the handles of the machine and onto the person using the equipment.
Reduced vibration power tools reduce the amount of vibration transmitted through the handles of the machine and onto the person using the equipment. Risk of injury related to use of vibrating tools is related to the level of vibration and the amount of time that the tool is used. If the vibration level of a tool is reduced, then workers can use that tool for a longer period of time and the risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome is reduced.
Companies such as Bosch, DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Black & Decker have produced power tools that are specially designed to produce less vibration in order to minimize the harmful effects associated with hand-arm vibration.
Studies have shown that hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) occurs in people with exposure to hand-arm vibration. However, there is not specific research to demonstrate the effect of reduced vibration power tools on preventing HAVS. Health and safey experts believe that any reduction in exposure to hand-arm vibration could be beneficial in preventing new cases of HAVS.
Tools and processes that create excessive hand-arm vibration to users (workers) may have an impact on production and maintenance, which may impact schedule or cost. Products may be more costly to produce and maintain due to effects of HAV on skilled production workers.
Companies such as Bosch, DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Black & Decker have produced power tools that are specially designed to produce less vibration.
Studies have shown a clear association between using vibrating power tools and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Health and safety experts believe that using reduced vibration tools may increase productivity because 1) the tool can be used for longer periods, and 2) there may be a reduction in lost time injuries due as a result of HAVS, and 3) workers whose fingers are numb from using power tools are more likely to make errors while working.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Alysha Meyers, PhD – University of Iowa
Albers, James T., and Estill, Cheryl F. Simple Solutions: Ergonomics for Construction Workers. DHHS (NIOSH) Publications. March 2007. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh. To view the Table of Contents for the Simple Solutions Document, please visit: http://www.cpwr.com/simple.html. Please send requests for copies of this publication to email@example.com, referencing document number 2007-122.
Anti-vibration tools are general tools that may be found at your local hardware store or directly from the manufacturer's website. Some manufacturers' websites have vibration exposure calculators, such as DeWalt Power Tools and Milwaukee Tools. Black & Decker and Dewalt and Hitachi and Milwaukee or contact 1-800-544-6986