Solution Summary: Reduced Vibration Power Tools
A reduced vibration, or anti-vibration, power tool is an engineering control designed to generate less vibration than conventional 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).
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).
Figure 1. Vibration dampening tool in use (Photo courtesy of ELCOSH)
Figure 2. Vibration-dampening gloves (Photo courtesy of ELCOSH)
Hand-arm vibration can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength. Reduced vibration power tools reduce the amount of vibration transmitted through the handles of the machine and onto the person using the equipment.
How Risks are Reduced:
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.
Effects on Productivity:
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.
- Purchase and use only power tools which are designed to reduce vibration (called anti-vibration, or A/V) and reduce musculoskeletal injuries. NOTE: An ergonomically designed power tool does not mean the tool has reduced vibration attributes and vice versa.
- Use only full-finger protected anti-vibration gloves, which meet or exceed the following Anti-vibration Glove standard: ANSI S3.40-2002 - ISO 10819.
- Use good work practices, including:
- Letting the power tool do the work
- Holding the power tool with the slightest, grip possible, consistent with safe work practices
- Keeping hands and body warm and dry
- Not smoking (nicotine, cold, and vibration all constrict blood vessels - impeding circulation)
- Maintain power tools in good condition.
- Make workers aware of hand-arm vibration signs and symptoms, and the need to see their safety managers and health care providers if signs and symptoms occur.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Alysha Meyers, PhD – University of Iowa
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